Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Impact of Light on Health

            According to the two articles, there is clear evidence of a link between the amount and quality of lighting to our health and wellbeing. Too much light, too little light, or exposure to light during the wrong times of day can all be factors in serious health disorders.  One such disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) occurs when people are not exposed to adequate amounts of daylight for a long period of time. As designers, it is up to us to optimize daylight conditions in interior spaces when appropriate to prevent these kinds of adverse responses in our environment. Lack of proper daylight can cause even more serious health problems such as diabetes and reproductive complications, so it is paramount to ensure that people who are indoors for long periods of time, such as hospital patients, get quality daylight.
            Another health concern that many people have experienced is a disruption in their circadian rhythm as a result to too much, or the wrong quality of light at night. Because light delays the release of melatonin, too much light at night can disrupt sleep, even long after the light exposure has occurred.  This is very problematic with nurses who need to be awake and alert during night shifts but must sleep afterwards. Designers need to take these concerns into account when designing hospitals, so staff can effectively transition from working to sleeping without acquiring light-related illness.  Evidence-based design is the only way to effectively ensure that the lighting in interior spaces is healthy for those who inhabit them.

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