Light is a drug, so let's administer it correctly

LONDON-- From manufacturers to wholesalers, the lighting supply chain needs to start measuring and explaining the non-visual impact of its products on end users.

That’s the view of Professor Herbert Plischke, of Munich University of Applied Sciences, who told delegates in a packed session at LuxLive yesterday of the growing body of evidence to suggest that the right light – at the right time – can stabilise hormonal rhythms, enhance night-time melatonin secretion, improve sleep quality, increase day-time vigilance and raise our resilience to stress.

For shift workers and others who are active at night, appropriate lighting could reduce ‘chronodisruption’ – the effects of the body being active when it is not prepared to be.

Lending his voice to the ‘human-centric lighting’ movement, Plischke said that the radiance, spectrum and solid angle of artificial lighting products must be considered, as well as the time at which they deliver their light. ‘Sunlight is our drug, but domestic lighting is like a vitamin. It can provide us with a kind of nutritional support.’

Studies from around the world have, for example, associated bright light in the morning with a reduction in the core pathology of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ‘Domestic lighting can help foster primary health prevention,’ he asserted.

There is a lot more work to be done to determine the optimal light for all circumstances, but a focus on ‘melanopic lux’, which measures the impact of light on the entire human body, would speed the industry towards some important discoveries, according to Professor Plischke. Eventually, ‘our homes should be like our brains’ – using control systems to ensure that we get the light that best suits our circadian rhythms.

‘It is time,’ he concluded, ‘to give light to the people.’

Photo by Andy Hendry

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