Why Daylight LEDs are the future of light designTuesday 08 February 2022
It would be hard to argue against the fact that LED technology has transformed light design.
Requiring just a fraction of the power of traditional bulbs, light emitting diodes also last far longer than the technologies which preceded them. They are now employed in all imaginable light fixtures, with further innovations attempting to curb their weaknesses. Today we will be discussing one such innovation, following a study from the Brigham Women’s Hospital.
Since the invention of the first white LED in 1995, almost all industries have begun to rely on these incredibly energy efficient sources. However, one issue which has plagued the development of white LEDs has been their notoriously poor colour rendering, leading to eye strain and discomfort, which have limited their deployment in complex working environments.
However, all could be about to change with daylight LEDs. These LEDs more closely match the spectrum of natural sunlight, hence the name. For the study, the same SunLike chips that you find in the Serious Light range were used, in order to achieve the highest possible replication to daylight.
In 2021, the Brigham Women’s Hospital, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, published a significant study on daylight LEDs. This experiment demonstrated that by a variety of metrics, daylight-replicating LEDs improve cognitive performance of people who were deprived of sleep, compared to conventional white LEDs.
As we know from our general scientific consensus developed over a number of years, small changes in light exposure can trigger non-visual responses in the brain, such as the effect of “blue light” (~450nm) which suppresses the production of melatonin. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before we discovered that in certain conditions, human cognition could be verifiably affected as well.
The experiment was conducted on 39 individuals, and the tests were started in 2019. The volunteers were all subjected to a small limitation on their sleep, whereby they were not allowed to sleep for more than 7 hours during the week prior to the experiment. They were then asked to perform tasks which tested their sleepiness, alertness, cognitive speed and cognitive accuracy.
Nearly across the board, subjects tested under daylight LEDs performed better than their counterparts. While there were no clear results from the alertness test, the cognitive accuracy test saw an improvement of 5%, there was a 33% reduction in sleepiness, and the motor-sequence learning task was performed 3.2 times faster by people exposed to daylight-like conditions.
It is important to bear in mind that these tests were performed on healthy, young volunteers, who had lost little sleep, in preparation for the test. Therefore, one might surmise that testing on older, less healthy individuals could yield even stronger results.
Experiments using daylight LEDs present yet more possibilities for this giant of technology. As LEDs continue to take over the lighting industry, daylight replication clearly has a significant role to play. If further studies are corroborated in future, it seems hard to imagine that any business or institution would be willing to use any other light-design. Those of us who are already benefiting know just how valuable it is, and it’s only a matter of time until the rest of the world catches up.
Daytime Exposure to Short Wavelength-Enriched Light Improves Cognitive Performance in Sleep-Restricted College-Aged Adults. Leilah K. Grant1,2, Brianne A. Kent1,2, Matthew D. Mayer1, Robert Stickgold3,4, Steven W. Lockley1,2 and Shadab A. Rahman1,2*. Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Departments of Medicine and Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, United States
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