• Are You Ignoring Light Pollution in Your Home?

    indoor light

     

    There’s a lot of buzz in the media about the quality of light at the workplace, but the lighting in your home is just as important. When the sun shines through the window during the day and you switch on light therapy home products to see better, the lighting is beneficial as bodies use the sun as a natural clock. The problematic lighting often occurs after dark, when your brain winds down and prepares to sleep. By reducing the light pollution inside your home at night, your brain will thank you with improved sleep and extra energy during the day.

     

    Indoor Light Pollution Sources and Solutions

     

    Modern Technology

     

    Keep your tablet, laptop, smartphone and television off when you get in bed. According to a May 2012 article by the Harvard Medical School, the blue light that the devices emit negatively affect melatonin production more than other types of wavelengths. White light is the second worse.

     

    The blue and white wavelengths found in many light therapy home products are great for daytime use because they mimic natural light. During the day, the light boosts your mood, helps you focus and promotes energy. After dark, the bright wavelengths have the opposite effect. In addition to affecting an individual’s circadian rhythm, blue wavelengths affect heart rate, the growth of cancer cells and mental health.

     
    Unnecessarily Bright Lights

     
    Special cells within the retinas process the light in your surroundings and relay information to your brain about the need to stay awake or go to sleep. Incidentally, too much bright light in the evening may keep you up longer than you want.

     

    As the sun sets, dim the lights in your home. For example, turn off bright overhead lights and use lamps. At night, when you get up to use the bathroom, use a nightlight instead of the main lights. Research shows that red bulbs in nightlights are ideal because they interfere less with circadian rhythms.

     
    Improper Light Direction

     
    The way that light enters your home and illuminates a room is just as important as its intensity. Arrange lights in your bedroom so they produce a soft glow in the evening. You may do this by changing a lamp’s shade to one that directs light more efficiently. Adjust track lighting so it doesn’t shine down on your bed. If reading in bed, consider using a therapy lamp that promote sleep at night and helps you wake up in the morning, like Nature Bright’s Per2 LED Daylight Lamp.

     

    The right curtains will also direct light appropriately. Use blackout curtains prevent outside light from entering your room at night. Then open the curtains in the morning to help you wake up. To get a similar natural lighting effect without needing to get out of bed, the Square Two lamp by Nature Bright with a built-in alarm clock wakes you with special lights that mimic the morning sun.

     

    The light that surrounds you—whether you can see it or not—constantly communicates with your brain. Send your brain the right signals throughout the day and evening to help you sleep better and feel more rested in the morning. Visit Nature Bright to learn more about how light therapy home products can optimize your circadian rhythm and improve your health.

     

    [Photo from Ellenor Benton via CC License 2.0]
  • Is Your Office Lighting is Affecting Productivity?

    office lighting

     

    Do your employees reflect the positive environment that your company creates? If not, artificial lighting may be to blame. In addition to motivation and efficient processes, lighting is one of the most important factors when it comes to employee productivity. Light boxes for office spaces may be effective solution you need to optimize your workforce.

     

    Disadvantages of Artificial Lighting in Offices

     

    • Eyestrain: Dim and harsh lights force employees to strain to read, see and work. A 1998 study by Cornell University discovered that poor lighting-related productivity losses amounted to 15 minutes per day per employee.
    • Absenteeism: Workers may develop headaches or migraines while working spaces with dim or harsh lights, which could lead to an increase in employee absences.
    • Tiredness: Trying to focus in an office with dim lights is physically and mentally exhausting. When employees feel tired, it’s more difficult for them to focus, remain alert and feel motivated.
    • Poor sleep quality: The 2013 study “Impact of Workplace Daylight Exposure on Sleep, Physical Activity, and Quality of Life” in the Journal of Sleep and Sleep Disorders Research abstract supplement, SLEEP, found that employees exposed to poor lighting at the workplace slept an average of 46 minutes less than those who worked in an office with windows. The sleep disturbances occurred because the lighting at work altered the employees’ circadian rhythms.
    • Decreased employee satisfaction: In the study published in SLEEP, researchers found that employees who slept less also reported a lower quality of life, less vitality and more physical problems.

     

    Why Light Boxes for Office Spaces Help

     

    Lighting influences circadian rhythms. It acts as a cue that tells the brain when to wake up and when to sleep. Circadian rhythms also affect body temperatures, the release of certain hormones (e.g., melatonin) and other important functions, such as heartbeats. The brain’s group of nerve cells responsible for circadian rhythms is the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus.

     

    When light passes through the retinas in the eyes, the specialized photosensitive cells within it communicate directly with the suprachiasmatic nucleus. The suprachiasmatic nucleus interprets the information from the retina and sends signals to the pineal gland, which is responsible for converting serotonin to melatonin and secreting it.

     

    In an office with good lighting conditions, the suprachiasmatic nucleus tells the pineal gland to hold off on the melatonin secretion until it is dark. When there’s a lack of natural lighting in the workplace, the suprachiasmatic nucleus may not send the correct signals.

     

    What to Look for in Light Boxes for Office Environments

     

    • Treats SAD (seasonal affective disorder): Look for light therapy lamps designed to treat SAD.
    • Brightness: Good light boxes deliver the right amount of intensity and brightness.
    • UV filtering: Therapeutic should emit as little UV light as possible.
    • Style and location: Choose a style and location for the light box or boxes that will offer the most benefit to your employees.

     

    When it comes to the physical workplace environment and employee productivity, details matter. A simple way to increase natural daylight exposure without remodeling is with a Nature Bright Sun Frame. The illuminated art within the frame emits natural wavelengths (between 350 and 750 lumens) in accordance with the time of day to help your employees maintain optimal performance levels. Visit Nature Bright to learn more about the Sun Frame and view the variety of artistic options.

  • 3 Ways Artificial Light Has Contributed to Depression

    artificial light & depression

     

     

    As individuals seek complementary ways to treat depression and mood disorders, some look to natural light for depression. Artificial lighting dates back to as early as 400,000 BCE, when prehistoric civilizations used fire to illuminate their surroundings. This trend continued with the use of lamps and candles until the 18th century, when the gaslight became an economical option for commercial and residential utility lighting. A few decades later, Pavel Yablochkov’s invention of his namesake candle, an electric carbon arc light, led the world out of its natural darkness. Artificial light, however, had unforeseen implications on mental and physical health.

     

    Darkness out of the (Artificial) Light

     

    Altered Sleep Cycles
    Before artificial lighting was available to the public, people used the sun and their natural circadian rhythms as a guide to know when to end the workday and go to sleep. With the invention of gaslights and electric light bulbs, sunsets no longer signaled the end of the day; they introduced a nightlife in its various forms.

     

    As artificial light allowed days to grow longer, they also extended working hours. Edison’s light bulb paved the way for multi-day shifts and extended working hours that have proven physiological effects. Shift work disorders plague many of those who do not work during the day. The resulting lack of energy, insomnia, excessive sleepiness and irritability may lead to depression or exacerbate symptoms in those who have the illness.

     

    Light Pollution

    Street lamps, billboards, illuminated apartments in towering buildings, and headlamps all contribute to today’s light pollution. The presence of artificial light is so prevalent that over 50 percent of the people in Europe and the U.S. cannot see the Milky Way from their homes. In fact, after a 1994 earthquake caused a power outage in Los Angeles, some residents grew so concerned about a silvery cloud across the sky that the called the police. This cloud was the Milky Way.

     

    Astronomers called attention to light pollution as it affected animal behaviors, including human sleep cycles. People generally sleep better in total darkness, and light pollution that seeps into bedrooms from surrounding buildings or residences can severely inhibit effective sleep.

     

    Bright Screens

    Technological advances like televisions, smartphones, tablets and computers all use light technologies. While the technologies themselves do not cause depression, the light that they emit may affect your ability to sleep if you use such a device before or while in bed. In studies conducted over the last few decades, scientists found that exposure to blue or white lights immediately before sleeping can alter circadian rhythms and cause physiological changes that may contribute to or exacerbate depression symptoms of depression.

     

    Using Natural Light for Depression
    Artificial light has been one of the most impactful technological advances known to man. It had unforeseen consequences, which you’ll find with every type of revolutionary invention. Just as artificial light has led to behavioral changes and deviations in sleep cycles, it may also provide a solution to those with psychological and mood disorders. Each type of light, when used correctly, can improve overall health.

     

    The different colors and wavelengths found in natural light are scientifically proven to positively alter circadian rhythms, moods, variable heart rates, melatonin production and other physiological factors when used effectively. Light therapy at the home or office may help ease feelings of depression and anxiety, and you never need a prescription for it. At Nature Bright, our energy-efficient light therapy lamps give you the benefits of natural light even on the darkest days.

     

    [Photo by Mic445 via CC License 2.0]
  • Light Color and How It Affects Our Mood

    natural light promotes happiness

     

    Just as the colors of painted walls affect how you feel, so does the light that illuminates a room. Light therapy studies have found that different light colors affect moods, heart rates and circadian rhythms. By understanding the health effects of different light colors, you can design your home or office in a manner that promotes positivity and wellbeing.

     

    Color Considerations for Natural Light Therapy Solutions

     

    Red Light
    Throughout the last few decades, scientists repeatedly found that red light is the least likely to affect internal clocks. A 2013 Journal of Neuroscience report discussed the effects of red, blue and white lights on hamsters. At the conclusion of the respective study, researchers found that the rodents exposed to red light at night seemed less depressed than those exposed to the other colors of light. We have since found that this is because red light has a lesser effect on circadian rhythms, making it an excellent choice for evening lighting.

     

    Similarly, a 2006 study published in Forschende Komplementärmedizin (Research in Complementary Medicine) found that different colors of light affect heart rate variability within minutes. In a 12-person study, those exposed to red and green lights, followed by a period of darkness, were the most likely to have higher levels of emotional arousal, which translate into better moods.

     

    Blue and White Lights
    In the study using hamsters, researchers found that the hamsters exposed to blue or white light experienced considerably more interruptions in their sleep patterns. This is because different light wavelengths affect how the brain reacts. Brain cells tend to be the most sensitive to blue wavelengths and the least sensitive to red ones.

     

    In his article, Holzman stated that while many visible wavelengths have the power to reset circadian rhythms to a degree, blue light has the strongest impact—even in those who are blind. A study at the Harvard Medical School found that blue wavelengths suppressed melatonin levels at least twice as long as other light colors. Holzman highlighted other studies that discovered that blue light reduced sleepiness, elevated body temperatures, increase attentiveness and helped improve memory. Exposure to blue light in the early parts of the day can increase energy levels and reduce the after-lunch energy crash.

     

    How Can Light Color Be Used to Improve Health?
    The best color of light depends on your goals. If you want to increase productivity and promote a positive environment, short blue wavelengths are the best. Studies show that using blue light during the day helps prevent or reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, which is particularly beneficial to those who experience seasonal affective disorder.

     

    To support good sleep hygiene, it’s best to limit your exposure to blue light before bed and throughout the night. Scientists found that those who have difficulties falling asleep might benefit from reducing the use of devices that emit blue light at night, such as computers, smartphones, television and tablets. It is also wise to use red night-lights to minimize the interruption to your circadian rhythm if you briefly get up in the middle of the night and require illumination.

     

    By using the right light colors at the right time of day, you’ll boost your body’s ability to remain alert and active when it’s appropriate, and wind down at the end of the day. To learn how to incorporate light therapy in your home or office, browse Nature Bright’s comprehensive, eco-friendly solutions.

     

    [Photo from Justin Maalihan via CC License 2.0]
  • How Luxury Brands Can Use Lighting to Influence Customers

    daylighting for high end retail

     

    The concept of daylighting is evident in many upscale environments: large, floor-to-ceiling windows in homes, high ceilings and reflective surfaces are notably associated with luxury living. Natural light creates an environment that promotes positivity and wellbeing, possibly explaining why many consider a luxury lifestyle to be the ideal. The same natural lighting concepts can be applied to high-end retail establishments to keep customers browsing and increase sales.

     

    Benefits of Daylighting for Luxury Retail Spaces

     

    • Enhanced employee morale: While some high-end items sell themselves, the workers in an affluent retail location can drive sales higher with natural lighting. An October 2003 technical report by the California Energy Commission (CEC) revealed that employees feel more comfortable and tend to be healthier in daylit stores. With workers being one of the most important assets in any business, creating a positive and comfortable environment helps enhance a company’s culture and increase sales. When a sales associate looks and feels confident, customers feel more secure about spending money.

     

    • Increased sales: According to the CEC, its researchers found that daylighting can drive sales by up to 40 percent and is an important element to consider when predicting sales. In addition to increased sales, daylighting for businesses yielded a 2 percent increase in monthly transactions throughout the year.

     

    • Increased energy levels: Numerous scientific studies show that lights with blue or white wavelengths trigger the brain to feel awake. In a 2012 study led by Mirjam Muench, researchers found that workers exposed to blue wavelengths, like those found in daylight, had decreased levels of melatonin and increased levels of serotonin and dopamine, more commonly knows as “feel good” hormones. Incidentally, workers in the study felt more awake toward the end of the day. Customer energy levels are just as important as the energy levels of staff members. By having comfortable environmental conditions and using natural lighting in a luxury retail space, customers will feel rejuvenated and have more energy to shop for longer periods.

     

    • Buyer’s remorse prevention: In the luxury retail business, customer returns can easily put your sales figures in the red. When an item looked better in the store than in the home or office, the store’s lighting may be to blame. Under fluorescent lights, the human eye generally distinguishes eight shades of each color. In natural lighting conditions, eyes can see exponentially more shades. They also have improved color retention and greater depth perception, according to the CEC. When your customers truly see the premium items that they are purchasing, they are less likely to change their decisions later.

     

    • Improve the store’s overall atmosphere: In the CEC’s study, managers and employees stated that daylighting makes stores look more uniformly lit, and the merchandise looks better and is easier to see. Natural lighting also made skin tones look better, which boosts customer confidence and satisfaction with the item in question.

     

    Daylighting for businesses has proven benefits and directly impacts customer perceptions. When natural daylight isn’t available, high-end retailers look to light therapy solutions that produce natural light. Nature Bright’s SunFrame is an innovative option, as it provides bright light therapy in the form of a beautiful piece of art. The frame uses optimized blue wavelengths that promote healthy biological rhythms, and slowly shifts to red light as the day progresses. As a 2014 Innovation Award finalist, the SunFrame uses SkyEffect™ Technology to give your retail location the perfect amount of natural light at every hour of the day. Learn more about Nature Bright’s SunFrame and natural lighting solutions.

     

    [Photo from epSos.de via CC License 2.0]
  • Shining a Light on Light Pollution [Infographic]

    Light pollution is a growing problem that has changed human behavior over the centuries. As light is released from urban and residential areas, it shoots skyward and results in the sky glow that hides the majority of the starts from the night sky. Additionally, light pollution is taking a toll on human circadian rhythms, resulting in society-wide sleep problems as well as other health issues related to the disruption of the body's natural cycles.

     

    light pollution

  • 5 Ways Light Pollution Affects Your Health

    light pollution in hong kong

     

    By definition, light pollution is artificial lighting that is unnecessary, annoying or inefficient. Ron Chepesiuk stated in a January 2009 article in Environmental Health Perspectives that researchers consider nuisance lighting to be one of the fastest growing forms of environmental pollution, and it can have lasting effects on human health. While artificial lights are not inherently bad, their effects warrant mindful usage.

     

    The Effects of Light Pollution on Health

     

    1. Circadian rhythm disruptions: Different wavelengths of color affect the body differently. Several scientific studies found that lights with blue or white wavelengths have the ability to alter circadian rhythms, the body’s natural sleep cycle. In an August 2014 interview in Salon , author Paul Bogard explained that the human body evolved to associate blue wavelengths in light with waking up. When exposed to these wavelengths at night, some people may have a harder time falling asleep.

     

    2. Disruptions in melatonin production: When a healthy individual falls asleep, tryptophan produces serotonin in the brain. The brain then converts serotonin into melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep. The brain, however, requires darkness for it to convert serotonin into melatonin. When exposed to artificial white or blue lights, melatonin levels drop or the conversion of hormones is less likely to occur.

     

    3. Accelerated tumor growth: Artificial lights do not cause cancer. According to Chepesiuk, exposure to artificial light at night may disrupt circadian rhythms and neuroendocrine physiology, which could lead to accelerated tumor growth. A December 2005 issue of Cancer Research discussed the increased breast cancer risks in female employees who work night shifts. Researchers collected blood samples from female volunteers exposed to different lighting conditions: natural daytime lighting, darkness at night, and artificial lighting at night. The results showed that tumors exposed to blood with higher melatonin levels (due to volunteers’ nighttime exposure to darkness) grew slower.

     

    Similarly, a January 2008 issue of Chronobiology International discussed a study that found that Israeli women in neighborhoods that had outside artificial lights bright enough to read under at night had a 73 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer. Scientists also found that artificial light could affect the growth of prostate tumors and skin carcinoma incidences. While the evidence regarding the relationship of light pollution and cancer are inconclusive, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer stated that shift work that disrupts circadian rhythms is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

     

    4. Development of sleep disorders: Circadian clock disruptions can lead to a variety of sleep disorders, including insomnia, shift-work sleep disorder and delayed sleep-phase syndrome. Sleep disorders and circadian rhythm disruptions are known to have various physiological effects on the brain and body, such as the development of depression or irregular heartbeats.

     

    5. Exacerbation of pre-existing conditions: When light pollution comes in the form of flickering lights, the lights may exacerbate symptoms related to medical conditions, such as migraine headaches, epilepsy, solar urticaria or chronic actinic dermatitis. The two later conditions are rashes that develop because of exposure to the sun or artificial lights that emit ultraviolet radiation.
    Artificial lighting has numerous benefits. For instance, it extends the length of days and provides safe illumination in homes and buildings. The technology is more hazardous when it becomes light pollution. Thankfully, bright light therapy solutions—such as light boxes and lamps that mimic natural lighting—can help you find a healthy way to realign your circadian rhythms at home and in the office. To benefit from the advantages of bright light therapy, browse Nature Bright’s selection of optimized lighting solutions.