Monday, Nov. 20th 2017

Beat the winter blues with LEDs

LED2 MZ-3 Winter Blues

The end of Daylight Saving Time always throws me for a loop each fall, as the days grow shorter and the sun is hard to find. It’s always tough getting used to leaving work when it’s already dark, especially on those days when you feel like you never got to see the sun at all.

For most of us, the drop in energy and dip in mood we may experience are chalked up to the “winter blues.” But about 5 percent of us experience something worse known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which can often mean depression, changes in appetite, irritability, sleep disruption, anxiety, and other symptoms. And another 10 to 15 percent of us experience a mild version of SAD each year.

One established treatment for SAD is light therapy, through the use of special light boxes that try to mimic light from the sun. These boxes are effective because they use “full-spectrum light” to reproduce the effects of daylight; for many people, they have the power to reduce or eliminate SAD symptoms altogether.

The next wave of light therapy                                                                   

While light therapy has been around a while, technology is working to improve these treatments for the millions who suffer with SAD. A new lighting company called Sunn has developed a light fixture that’s less like a box and more like a lamp, designed to replicate the daily variations of actual sunlight.

And because people are often affected in different ways by SAD depending on where they live in the world, the new Sunn lamp uses custom algorithms and a variety of LED lights inside the fixture to mimic the sunlight of any geographical location. Andrew Vaslas, CTO of Sunn, explains the idea to WIRED:

“The idea is that with our light mimicking natural sunlight, we’re putting people more in tune with the natural rhythms of natural light. The way that that light changes – specifically the quality and color of the light – informs our internal body clocks.”

The LED technology Sunn is using allows the lamp to not only replicate the daylight of certain areas of the world but also provide the ability to change as appropriate—a testament to the superiority of this latest generation of LEDs.

Illuminate a better work space

The good news is the vast majority of Americans don’t experience the severe symptoms that come with SAD, and therefore don’t require light therapy. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t all benefit from a higher quality of light in our office environment.

We spend something close to 87 percent of our time indoors, and Americans are working longer and longer work days. Think about your average week and how little of it you spend in areas where you can see natural daylight. (Even worse, think about how much of it you spend under flickering fluorescents!)

The office building design community is taking notice, too, as architects and commercial real estate developers are recognizing the amenities and workplace environments that appeal to employees—things like open spaces, collaboration areas and plenty of access to windows or skylights that let in natural light.

When a complete office redesign isn’t in the budget, however, progressive business owners are also recognizing the benefit of retrofitting their current spaces with LED lighting—not only for their energy efficiency but also their full-spectrum light. The Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute elaborates:

“Full-spectrum light sources may have psychological benefits, particularly in societies that place value on ‘natural’ environments … Positive effect induced by daylight may, in fact, help improve mood and motivation and thus increase productivity and retail sales. Full-spectrum light sources offer this positive association with daylight.”

This just shows the true power of LED lighting: to not only improve the morale and satisfaction of employees but possibly improve our health at the same time. While Daylight Savings Time isn’t going away anytime soon, maybe we can all take steps now to help us tolerate it a little better next year.

Martin Zhang is president of LED2, a manufacturer and seller of indoor and outdoor commercial LED lighting products. How are you improving the light quality in your facility? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or on Twitter @LED2.


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