Today, we spend most of our time indoors in the presence of a combination of natural and artificial lighting. However, with the growing awareness regarding the positive impacts of natural light on human psychological and biological processes, the trends are now shifting towards artificial lighting.
Lighting that imitates the colour temperature and the look and feel of natural light. With several options to modulate the light intensity and colour, lighting designs are now aiming to achieve a natural look in any space. Light adds definition to spaces, accentuating the textures and highlighting the different hues and layers. While it is a significant benefactor in changing the character of a space, it has immense psychological and biological impacts on its occupants, making its role in spatial design much more critical than merely enabling aesthetic effects.
Lighting also impacts the serotonin and melatonin levels in our body that govern our sleep patterns, moods and behaviour, productivity, cognition and overall well-being. In prolonged dimly-lit spaces, one may feel sad or depressed and not know what’s causing it. As a result, we must have efficient lighting to influence our biological processes positively.
Therefore, whether it is a residential or commercial space, employing an ideal lighting scheme is vital to the success of the design of a space. For example, in a residential setting, a good lighting scheme can help create a relaxing environment after a long day of work. On the other hand, in a commercial setting, it can increase productivity and lift the overall mood of the space by using the appropriate colour temperature, brightness, and interesting focal points.
Light directly impacts our circadian rhythms, ensuring sound sleep, a balanced mood, greater cognition, and overall well-being. Research shows a clear relationship between good lighting and elevated moods, energy levels, concentration, appetite and many other aspects of life. While on the other hand, improper lighting can cause gloominess and an overall reduced cognitive performance by our body. Considering its grave implications, lighting becomes a seminal part of the design scheme of any space.
Striking the right balance
The question then arises — how do we design lighting to promote healthy circadian rhythms and better health and well-being? A simple solution could be maintaining an ideal Colour Temperature by imitating natural light cycles round the clock. Understanding colour temperature is simple; the higher the temperature, the brighter and cooler the light, and vice versa.
To maintain an ideal circadian rhythm, cooler and brighter lights are recommended during the daytime. In contrast, warmer and dimmer ones are well suited for the evenings and nights, the opposite of which might disturb the sleep cycle and reduce our attention span throughout the day. Cooler temperatures in lights act as stimulators and are crucial for focused activities like reading, working, or cooking. They tend to increase our productivity and help us be more alert and attentive while making it difficult for us to fall asleep at night.
The warmer or yellow tones on the colour temperature scale are closer to sunrise and sunsets when our bodies tend to be more at ease. The use of warmer tones of lights in any space tends to bring in calmness and peace, making the environment comfortable. Dim lights might create a soothing ambience while aiding the body to feel relaxed and more prepared to sleep.
Lighting systems are now instrumental in guaranteeing comfort and promoting users’ well-being. Lighting is the thread that weaves the narrative of a space together, making it a crucial element in any design process. Improper lighting can lead to an imbalance, causing the space to feel overwhelming or impractical. Furthermore, it can diminish the visibility and the overall essence of the space. Therefore, considering these essential factors while designing any space will ensure that our rooms are equipped to support all kinds of activities while setting the right mood to harbour a lively and warm atmosphere.
[Aryaman Jain is CEO of Innovative Lighting Designs Limited (ILDL)]