AWA NEWS: “Healthy Lighting” Series – Part 5 of 7

AWA NEWS: “Healthy Lighting” Series – Part 5 of 7

Utilizing Latent Properties of Light (Part 2)

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Today we are sharing the final five of nine “Latent Properties of Light” that we identified in Part 4 of this Newsletter Series issued on October 26, 2021.

It is well established, scientifically and empirically, that light triggers critical physiological and psychological responses within human beings. Since most of us spend most of our lives in the built environment, the level and quality of light within these buildings have real implications for our health and wellness. As we become more aware of light’s implications on our physiological and psychological selves, and as technology affords a greater range of options, the questions we ask at AWA are “How do we translate this information into buildable lighting specifications?” and “How do we incorporate knowledge available empirically and in the laboratory into our built environment, and get it built right?” We at AWA, have been developing the specifications for these kinds of lighting solutions so that they actually get implemented in projects. We are listing the variables connected to the problem and the possible solutions that we have developed.

As always, we value your feedback. Please feel free to contact me or the team directly.

Abhay M Wadhwa
Design Principal  l  CEO
AWA Lighting Designers

Blue Frog (AWA Project)

5. Wireless Controls: 
In a typical hardwired lighting system, control signals are sent using communication wires. However, the wiring of this system can emit electromagnetic frequencies that contribute to disturbances in sleep patterns. In a wireless RF system, control devices communicate through the air using radio waves, which eliminates the need for control wiring [24] and decreases patients’ exposure to unhealthy energy that can also contribute to disturbed sleeping patterns [15]. Continuous low-level human exposure to RF fields produced by base stations and local wireless networks have shown no detrimental effects on human health. Due to their lower frequency, at similar RF exposure levels, the body absorbs up to 5 times more of the signal from FM radio and television than from base stations of wireless controls. The frequencies used in FM radio (around 100 MHz) and in TV broadcasting (around 300 to 400 MHz) are lower than those employed in wireless technology (900 MHz and 1800 MHz) [7]. A wireless system also permits the introduction of circadian lighting into healthcare facilities, allowing the light color temperature to automatically change depending on the time of day, simulating natural daylight patterns. This ability can aid in decreasing potential disturbances in sleep patterns.

Ludo Lounge (AWA Project)

6. Providing Appropriate Circadian Stimulus:
The impact of light on a person will vary depending on their physiological state. All individual’s body clocks are set differently from one another. It isn’t possible to know the setting of one’s clock without obtaining physiological info; therefore, the right light at the wrong time can have the opposite of its desired effect [5]. A lighting design solution should be introduced that addresses the stimulation of the circadian system, the time of day that is best to be exposed to blue light or energizes inhabitants during the day. Such a system should be implemented architecturally through wall or ceiling panels that change color temperature that corresponds with information it receives about the user’s sleep schedule, activity patterns, and information about the lights they were exposed to throughout the day. 

Having control over a lighting system that can dynamically change light being delivered from circadian effective to non-circadian effective can be helpful in reinforcing circadian rhythms or energizing night shift workers. Faux skylights can also be implemented to bring wavelengths that simulate daylight into a space that has no access to natural daylight, therefore improving their moods and reinforcing circadian rhythms [11,13].

The Expanding Horizon

7. Reducing Circadian Disruption: 
Circadian disruption can lead to problems with digestion, alertness, or sleep disruption [4,20]. Lighting design solutions can improve nighttime sleep and daytime wakefulness should be implemented. The introduction of artificial windows with changing scenes can aid in syncing circadian rhythms. A window that produces scenes that represent the changing and passing of time throughout the day can also provide the changing of wavelengths and light levels and can help sync one’s master biological clock [2]. Alternately, providing AWA’s patent pending “Horizon Light” can help in fixing circadian disruption.

Cyber Hub (AWA Project)

8. Healthy Sleep for Special Needs People: 
Circadian light has the potential to suppress melatonin synthesis at night. Therefore, the wrong type of light at the wrong time can negatively impact the ability of sleep to occur at the right part of the circadian cycle, especially for those who exhibit problems with syncing their natural circadian rhythms. These individuals include those who experience neurological disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, or others who can’t get necessary amounts of sleep because they suffer from circadian rhythm sleep disorders [14].

The incorporation of a firefly inspired ceiling that emits deep purple light, or light with wavelengths that resemble the night sky can aid in calming individuals and putting them to sleep, eliminating wavelengths that can disrupt sleep. [9]. 

Ludo Lounge (AWA Project)

9. Lighting for Female Night Shift Nurses: 
In a series of studies, breast cancer risk was found to be increased among subjects who frequently did not sleep during the period of night when melatonin levels are at their highest. It was also found that exposure to light at night has been found to increase the risk of breast cancer, by suppressing the nocturnal production of melatonin, which in turn could increase the release of estrogen by the ovaries [16]. This can be a problem for female nurses who work night shifts, constantly being exposed to light. Light pods in nursing break rooms can be useful for energizing nurses throughout the day. Light therapy has been shown to help energize nurses, improve moods by increasing self-confidence, positivity, social awareness, conversation skills, and sensory stimulation [19]. Short light therapy breaks can assist in reinforcing their circadian rhythms so that they’re able to rest later on and improve their mood and performance throughout the day.

1. 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design. William Browning. 2014.
2. A New Approach to Understanding the Impact of Circadian Disruption on Human Health. Mark S Rea, Mariana G. Figueiro. 2008.
3. Biophilia: Does Visual Contact with Nature Impact on Health and Well-Being? Bjørn Grinde and Grete Grindal Patil. 2009.
4. Daylight and Productivity: A Possible Link to Circadian Regulation. Mariana G. Figueiro, Mark S. Rea, Anne C. Rea. 2013.
5. Designing Lighting Systems Tuned to Circadian Rhythms. Ute Besenecker. 2017.
6. Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health: Intermediate Frequencies (IF). World Health Organization. 2005.
7. Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health: Base stations and wireless technologies. World Health Organization. 2006.
8. Emerging Nature-Based Parameters for Health and Well-Being in the Built Environment. Catherine O. Ryan. 2014.
9. The Health Benefits of Human-Centric Lighting Using LEDs. Yoelit H. Hiebert.
10. How Do I Eliminate Stress with Color? Dr. Edward Group DC. 2015.
11. Impact of Light on Outcomes in Healthcare Settings. Anjali Joseph. 2006.
12. LED lamps interfering with radio transmissions. Sarah Bailey. 2013.
13. Light Early in the Day: An Important Part of Your Sleep Routine. Dr. Michael Breus. 2017.
14. Light Therapy and Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia: Past, Present, and Future. Nicholas Hanford and Mariana Figueiro. 2013.
15. Night Shift Work, Light at Night, and Risk of Breast Cancer. Scott Davis. 2001.
16. Pineal melatonin level disruption in humans due to electromagnetic fields and ICNIRP limits. The University of Melbourne, Australia. 2013.
17. The Power of Color in the Healthcare Environment. Laura Guido-Clark Design, LLC.
18. Proposing Measures of Flicker in the Low Frequencies for Lighting Applications. Brad Lehman. 2011.
19. Red Light Therapy Benefits, Research & Mechanism of Action. Dr.Josh Axe.
20. Research Recap. Mariana Figueiro. February 2003.
21. What is Biophilic Design? Oliver Heath Design.
22. What is Orgone? Orgite Creations.
23. Wireless Lighting Controls Offer Flexibility And Cost Savings in Commercial Buildings. Craig Dilouie. 2011

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