Use of lighting to improve health and wellbeing
Lighting affects our health. It affects our mood and circadian rhythms. Poor lighting is linked to glare, headaches, eyestrain, skin conditions and various types of sight loss. So what can building owners and occupants do about it?
1 - Ensure lighting is well maintained. Failed lighting creates dark areas which may be unsafe. Faulty lighting that flashes on and off can cause headaches or epileptic seizures.
2 - Reduce exposure to glare. Arrange visual display units so that reflected glare from luminaires and other brightly-lit areas is limited or avoided. Use matt rather than gloss finishes. Use bright finishes of high reflectance for ceilings and walls to enhance the overall luminance of the space.
3 - Use daylight where possible. Raise blinds when not needed. Create areas with plenty of sunlight and good ventilation so they do not overheat.
4 - Get outside. Exposure to bright daylight and sunlight can help keep the body clock entrained and avoid the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
5 - Be aware of UV exposure. If used for long periods, fluorescent lamps close to the skin, such as desk lamps, should have a protective glass cover, or use LED’s instead.
6 - Reduce shift work, especially night work. Rapid rotation of shifts (a change every few days) is better than weekly rotation as this interferes with circadian rhythms. Use clockwise rotation of shifts (morning, afternoon and night) to ensure adequate rest. Avoid early starts to morning shifts.
7 - Dispose of lamps correctly. Follow Public Health England recommendations for dealing with broken fluorescent lamps to reduce exposure to mercury. Recycle lamps at the end of life by following local lamp recycling instructions.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- 7 ways better lighting can improve your health.
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- BRE Expert Collection 6 Daylight and shading.
- Building Research Establishment.
- Cheshire Oaks: Marks and Spencer
- Daylight benefits in healthcare buildings
- Daylight lighting systems.
- General lighting v task lighting.
- Health and wellbeing impacts of natural and artificial lighting
- Lighting and energy efficiency.
- Lighting and health infographic
- Site layout planning for daylight and sunlight
- The impact of lighting in retail design
- The essential guide to retail lighting
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