Design with wellness lighting in mind

By Luis Cortes of Echo Workshop

Sunrise at the beach playing in the sand, jumping into the water, and feeling the sun upon your back. Mid-day at the park throwing the Frisbee, barefoot on the grass while feeling the breeze upon your face as it rustles the nearby trees.  Sunset at the lake with the smell of the water and forest surrounding you. Most of us enjoy a great day in the outdoors, yet the greater majority of people spend more of their days indoors than they have ever done throughout history. We’ve become accustomed to indoor living and don’t realize the effects psychologically, and physiologically.

“Circadian Rhythms” is not a new conversation, but new technological developments have brought them to light, no pun intended, again over the past few years. The basic premise is that most living things operate on a 24-hour cycle that is affected by items like the movement of the sun across the sky, specifically the change in color temperature that happens as a result of it.  It’s got to do with the amber hues that we experience at sunrise and sunset and the bright white light that happens in the middle of the day. There are other triggers that affect our psychological state like the feeling of a breeze or hearing rainfall, but for this article, we’ll focus on lighting.

Science suggests that the impact of circadian rhythms affects us, not only psychologically, but even at the cellular level.  It affects our creation of melatonin in the evening hours and testosterone at the peak hours of the day. It affects fluctuations in blood pressure, and even bowel movement.

You may ask what this all has to do with the design of a space.  As it turns out, more lighting fixture and control system manufacturers have increased the awareness and importance of circadian rhythm simulation for the interior space. As stated, so many of us are spending more hours indoors and proper attention to indoor lighting that can recreate the color temperatures that happen during a natural outdoors environment improve our mood, wellness, health, behavior, and psychological state.

A well-designed lighting system with circadian rhythm replication will become another focus within our industry in the years to come. It has been a point of importance in the commercial marketplace for years and has crept into the high-end residential space as of late. We’ve all seen the choice of color temperature within the LED lamps and fixtures, but the latest releases, like tunable white, or infinite color provide an environment changing experience within your space that can be programmed to replicate the color temperatures in the outdoor space or even transform your space into your favorite color for a cool night scene. Here’s another new frontier in design. Sure, artistic lighting has been a great focus of ours for decades.  The new considerations also include health and wellness.