Last edited 05 Nov 2020

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BRE Group Researcher Website

Health and wellbeing impacts of natural and artificial lighting

In August 2015, BRE Trust published ‘Lighting and health’, a report on the health and wellbeing impacts of natural and artificial lighting.

In the report, researchers from BRE and from universities in Istanbul and Eindhoven reviewed recent studies into the type, quality and patterns of lighting in buildings and their impact on issues other than safety and providing enough illumination to see. It includes assessment of:

  • The effects of lighting on health and mood.
  • The importance of the variation of light levels from day to night to maintain the circadian cycle in the body, which can determine patterns of alertness, co-ordination, blood pressure and cardiovascular efficiency.
  • The use of bright artificial light to give similar benefits to the natural lighting cycle.
  • The flickering of fluorescent lighting with magnetic ballasts and some light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which can cause headaches, eyestrain or epileptic seizures and can exacerbate the symptoms of autism and agoraphobia.
  • High frequency fluorescent lighting and different types of LEDs, which can avoid these problems.
  • Whether special lighting can help people with dementia.

Lighting and Health concludes with recommendations for building managers and occupants, for designers, and for elderly or visually impaired people.

The report is supported by a lighting and health infographic summarising some of the key issues.

Lighting and health infographic 270.jpg

The contents of the report are:

  1. Safe, healthy lighting for tasks.
  2. Circadian and seasonal rhythms.
  3. Optical hazards.
  4. Light exposure to skin.
  5. Indirect impacts.
  6. Special types of lighting.
  7. Recommendations.
  8. References.
  9. Further reading.


The BRE Trust was set up in 2002 to advance knowledge, innovation and communication for public benefit. It is the largest UK charity dedicated to research and education in the built environment, commissioning research and publishing project findings to provide authoritative guidance to the construction industry. All profits made by the BRE Group are gift aided to the Trust to fund research and education programmes.


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