How is Lighting Measured & Controlled?

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Light is measured in temperatures and colors, the measurement used is Kelvin (K), the warm glowing incandescent lights we grew up with are listed as 2700K, with numbers increasing as the light gets cooler.  Mid-range is 3000K-4100K and gives the look of a cool white, with a sunny day blue sky measured between 5000K-6500K being a very cool blue light. Studies have shown that the cooler light increases alertness as well as improved mood, energy and may boost productivity and sales up to 40% and creativity up to 15%! 

When we are in blue light our melatonin is suppressed, we feel energized and are more productive, we are more alert, think of how you feel on a bright sunny day.  Light sets the mood, in areas where you are wanting to increase cooperation and a sense of comfort you will want a warmer light, in production areas a brighter, bluer light is needed. 

I have had the opportunity to work with employees who have ADA’s because of the lighting in an office.  Also, I’ve worked with people who are diagnosed with circadian disruption and have trouble getting to work in the morning, others who suffer from intense eyestrain and headaches.  All have been successfully remedied with proper lighting.

Since first writing this article I have also had the opportunity to provide a tunable lighting product for a person suffering from vertigo, he is very satisfied with the results.

Light and the Saber Tooth Tiger

Lately, I have spent time considering how light impacts our circadian rhythm and the production of melatonin.  Melatonin is produced by various tissues in the body, although the major source is the pineal gland in the brain activated by darkness.  Why is this so sensitive to light?  How is it that even a small amount of blue light can disrupt this?

 I am brought to the awareness that each of us on this planet had ancestors who were able to survive famines, disease and predators, if they had not we would not be here.  In order to survive our ancestors had amazing genetic qualities to survive all that they faced and these they passed down to us in our genetic code.  

So, what does this have to do with light and the saber tooth?  When our ancestors experienced light it meant that the saber tooth or other predators also had light and for survival they had to be alert and awake.  The production of melatonin and the drowsiness it brings could have meant their doom.  Today, our pineal gland is not able to differentiate between the electric 24 hours a day of light we are able to surround ourselves with and the light that meant it is time to be awake and alert.  

We need to figure out how to work with our light sources to support our biological needs and responses to light, as they won't be changing any time soon, so for our health and survival we must understand this and work to support our natural systems.