The sunlight accompanies our everyday life – it produces a warm light in the morning, which shines with a particularly cold light at noon, and then we feel more soothing tones again in the afternoon. But what if we spend most of our time in artificially lit spaces e.g. in offices?
Well-chosen artificial lights affect our visual comfort, which affects our biorhythm, our health, our efficiency at work, and even our purchasing decisions.
János Nagy, head of the electrical engineering at the Operations Directorate of B+N Referencia Zrt. and president of the Hungarian Lighting Technology Association spoke about the effect of artificial lights, the choice of the ideal colour temperature and human-centred lighting.
We follow the Sun
Up to 2700-3000 Kelvin colour temperature we talk about warm, yellowish light. From 3000-3500 Kelvin we sense cold, bluish light. While warm lights are relaxing, cold lights are, on the contrary, stimulating. In practice, the light of the Sun regulates our biorhythm: the warm light of the morning gently prepares our body for daytime activity, later the cold light brightens us, while the warm colour of the setting Sun prepares the body to relax. This is why it is important to use lights consciously in different facilities.
After discovering the light’s effect on humans through the various receptors in the eye, many workplaces began to illuminate with very cold light – at temperatures up to 4,000 Kelvin – to boost performance – told Nagy, who also revealed the surprising result: At first it increased the efficiency of the employees, but in the end, as they did not feel good at work, their overall performance had decreased.
Sun goes down, lights go up
As we can see that the right light in the office is just as important as it is at home – since many people spend most of their days indoors.
“Ideally, we need artificial light in the morning and late in the afternoon, when warm light is more pleasant and better suited to our body’s needs,” – concludes Nagy, who casts his vote for the 3100 Kelvines light sources. “Most offices have large windows where we can work with a lot of natural light. The light of the Sun is cold enough during the day to naturally stimulate us. Artificial light is only needed when the Sun goes down, but then natural light is already in the warmer range.” – explains the expert.
To buy or not to buy?
Lighting also plays an important role in shopping malls – the use of warm or cold light depends on the function of the room. To enhance the experience, it is essential to use warm lights e.g. in cafes, places where you can sit down, relax. However, if you want to highlight certain products, it’s worth using eye-catching cold light.
Health in the spotlight
“The effects of light are lasting on the human body. The cold blue light of monitors and mobile devices e.g. inhibits melatonin production. In addition to our rhythm of life, melatonin hormone also slows the spread of cancer cells, so it is important that we do not adversely affect their function.”- Nagy emphasizes.
According to the expert, human-centred lighting is almost here. This new kind of lighting follows the colour temperature of sunlight, so it is warm in the morning, cooler at noon and soft, warm, pleasant light in the evening.
Perhaps the time is not so far off that optimal lighting conditions will accompany us throughout the day, balancing active, productive periods with the natural fatigue that is the basis of recharging rest.