Using Lighting to Encourage Life’s Natural Cycles

Sure, LED lighting is energy efficient, but the latest fixtures and 
lamps also offer new levels of control that simply aren’t possible with 
traditional incandescent and fluorescent products. Among these advances 
are the ability to produce a broader range of illumination from a single
 fixture. Acuity Brands Lighting

James R. Dukart

Sure, LED lighting is energy efficient, but the latest fixtures and lamps also offer new levels of control that simply aren’t possible with traditional incandescent and fluorescent products. Among these advances are the ability to produce a broader range of illumination from a single fixture. For those who research how the human brain responds to light through the course of a day, this capability is showing promise for boosting attentiveness and productivity.

Human sleep and wake cycles are controlled in large part by a hormone called melatonin, which our bodies begin producing as daylight begins to wane. As melatonin levels rise, we begin to get sleepy and less alert. Returning daylight puts a halt to melatonin production as we wake up the next morning. New “tunable white” light fixtures offer the ability to reinforce this natural cycle by allowing users to adjust illumination to mirror the way daylight changes color from morning, through midday and into early evening.

The popularity of these fixtures is growing out of a parallel interest in “biophilic” design – that is, design intended to keep us more in tune with nature, even when we’re in a commercial office building or school classroom. The natural connection between external daylight and human attentiveness and wakefulness has made tunable white luminaires especially attractive to schools and hospitals.

Various color-temperature ranges are offered in these fixtures, though they generally top out at a correlated color temperature of between 5000k and 6500k, which is close to the color temperature of daylight at midday. Users can dial the fixtures’ color temperatures down to a range between 1800K and 2700K to encourage relaxation and the natural sleep cycle.


Photo courtesy of Acuity Brands Lighting

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