LED Advancements – Circadian Lighting

March 13, 2019 at 6:22 pm

When LED technology was first introduced to the world over 50 years ago, it was merely a hope for an alternative to fluorescent bulbs. As time moved on, LED progressed from a dim, red light to a spectrum of colors, sizes, and applications. Today, advancements in LED lighting technology open up more avenues of using lighting as a tool to improve daily life. New color-changing technologies allow us to adjust lighting from bright, natural daylight, to warm evening light throughout the day. This change in color temperature helps stimulate circadian rhythm, which leads to countless benefits.

Circadian sun progression, Circadian Lighting
As the day progresses, the natural light emitted by the sun changes in color, angle, and intensity. Image courtesy of HowToGeek.com

Circadian rhythm, or a person’s internal clock, is a 24-hour cycle that occurs in your brain and tells your body to produce serotonin during the day to make you energized, and melatonin during the night to make you sleepy. Sleep.org states “This complex timekeeper is controlled by an area of the brain that responds to light, which is why humans are most alert while the sun is shining and are ready to sleep when it’s dark outside.”

In the lighting industry, the practice of manipulating our natural circadian rhythm with artificial lighting is called circadian lighting. Jake Herman of Glumac.com states that circadian lighting is “a lighting system designed to tap into the proven cycles our bodies’ follow each day, based on the position, angle, and color of natural sunlight at any given time.” By choosing the right lighting sources, lighting professionals use LED lighting to provide buildings with higher kelvin (more blue) light during daytime, while toning down to lower kelvin (more yellow) light during nighttime. Automated systems can be programmed to make these color changes throughout the day. When working with this kind programmed lighting, “it’s important to consider light level, spectral composition, timing and duration of the exposure, and the previous light exposures of the occupants,” says Ray Molony of LuxReview.com

Kelvin chart, warm to cool LED color temperatures, Circadian Lighting
The higher the kelvin, the cooler the color temperature.

When a person is in tune with their inner clock, it increases productivity and acts as a mood enhancer. Herman also states that “[We can] mimic the behavior of the sun and incorporate it into the everyday work environment to benefit occupants by creating a comfortable environment and actually increasing productivity.” Using LED technology to maintain a healthy rhythm can provide relief from ailments like depression and jetlag while also improving quality of sleep and worker satisfaction. With this kind of LED technology progression, it’s only a matter of time before we see new LED ideas and technologies to help further enhance our daily lives.