Good lighting conditions mean less effort
If you provide an optimized lighting environment, you can achieve the same performance with less effort. This is the result of a Munich research team during experiments in the lighting laboratory. The results offer new perspectives, especially for the world of work.
Researchers from the Munich University of Applied Sciences looked at how different lighting situations affect people’s cognitive performance. Certain light signals have been shown to have a direct effect on the autonomic nervous system and therefore sometimes have undesirable effects. With the right light at the right time, job performance can be promoted. The research results were recently presented in the famous trade journal “PLOS ONE”.
How daylight affects the body
Normal sunlight affects the human body in various ways. Among other things, daylight synchronizes the internal clock and thus determines the production of the hormone melatonin, which is jointly responsible for the quality of sleep. “The light-sensitive ganglion cells in the retina of the eye are responsible for these non-visual effects,” the scientists explain.
Ganglion cells contain the protein melanopsin, which is sensitive to blue light. “Depending on the direction, intensity and spectrum of the light, these cells send signals directly to the autonomic nervous system, the body’s control center,” the researchers explain.
Artificial light acts on this mechanism
Not only sunlight, but also artificial lighting affects these cells. According to the working group, artificial light is currently being used in completely unforeseen ways and often has unwanted and hitherto little noticed side effects. Modern LED lighting can be adapted without much effort in order to generate the right light at the right time.
Incorrect lighting leads to more strain
In the present study, the research team illustrated the effects of poor lighting in the workplace. In the lighting lab, scientists looked at the cognitive performance of 27 people tested in three different lighting scenarios in the morning and afternoon. In all cases, the lighting corresponded to the current European standard for artificial lighting of interiors with a brightness of 500 lux on the worktop.
Simulate the hours of the day with artificial lighting
During testing, the intensity, light spectra, and irradiation direction of typical neutral white LED lights varied. For example, a cold blue light from above that was as flat as possible with 7,000 Kelvin simulated a bright morning. An intensity of 2700 Kelvin was chosen for the evening setting and the color of the red light was dimmed. The Kelvin value indicates whether a lamp emits warm or cold light. The higher the Kelvin value, the cooler the light.
Three light scenarios from the point of view of the person tested. Different light spectra and the spatial arrangement of light sources require different levels of effort. (Photo: Johannes Zauner / Munich University of Applied Sciences)
Appropriate lighting results in less cognitive effort
Participants walked through three different lighting scenarios in random order in the morning and afternoon. During the ten to fifteen minute exposure time, test subjects were required to take a memory test. The error rate and the response time were measured. Changes in cardiac contraction time (PEP) were also recorded. This value reflects the effort that participants must put into achieving the required performance.
The light has influenced the effort spent
As reported by the working group, test subjects reacted to the respective light after a short period of exposure. Both with the light, which was modeled on natural morning light, and with the simulated evening light, the participants’ effort decreased while the performance remained the same. However, with typical lighting settings, such as those found in most offices, the measured effort increased by up to 2%.
“We were able to determine that a typical light environment in the working environment results in a greater strain on the test subjects,” summarizes Johannes Zauner of the research team. It is more advisable to regulate the lighting conditions according to the natural times of the day in order to support the circadian rhythm.
Most offices have lighting conditions that make work unnecessarily strenuous. (Image: lichaoshu / stock.adobe.com)
Two percent doesn’t seem like much
While a two percent deviation might not seem like much at first glance, Zauner points out that this is only a brief snapshot and that we are exposed to these static lighting conditions for decades of our lives. professional. He thinks it’s likely that this seemingly small effect will build up over the years into some relevant factor. (v)
Also read: Our diet influences hormones and the internal clock.
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and ongoing studies and has been verified by healthcare professionals.
Graduate Editor (FH) Volker Blasek
Johannes Zauner, Herbert Plischke, Hanna Stijnen, among others: Influence of common lighting conditions and time on the stress response of the heart; in: PLOS ONE, 2020, journals.plos.org
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.