Light and the Body

 

Decades of research from Harvard Medical School, NASA, and leading institutions around the world have revealed a great deal of information about how light impacts and regulates our health. We designed Ario based on this large body of knowledge and on recommendations of the National Institute of Health and American Medical Association. Ario delivers what is recommended to promote healthy circadian rhythm, restful sleep, and overall well-being:

  • Blue-rich light from above stimulates cortisol production in the morning to synchronize circadian rhythm and awaken, and during the day to maintain alertness.

  • Amber-toned light with very little blue and a relatively dark ceiling, at the end of the day. This makes it easier to relax and prepare the body for sleep by facilitating the release of the hormone melatonin which is inhibited by typical light exposure at night.

 

Our body learns what time it is from light in our environment.

Non-visual photoreceptors in our eyes, discovered fairly recently, are sensitive to changing levels of blue light from above. These receptors provide signals to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a tiny region located in the hypothalamus responsible for controlling our circadian rhythm, or body clock. This in turn influences the production of hormones regulating bodily process.

 

Today’s artificial lights throw off our body clock by as much as three hours. 

While we don’t perceive this directly, this changes the balance of our endocrine system, generally reducing levels of body process regulating hormones both day and night. These changes to our basic physiology affect our metabolism which in turn impacts our sleep, behavior, mood, and general health.

 

Other Healthy Lighting Examples

f.lux is a super popular free software downloaded by millions of users that makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. The software effectively relieves your eyes from harsh blue light emitted by computer screens and better prepares you for bed.

NASA astronauts experience extreme light conditions in space, which result in circadian rhythm disruption. Over many years, NASA has learned how to use proper lighting to help astronauts compensate for significant changes in their sleep/wake cycles.

Recently, the Seattle Mariners redesigned their clubhouse, introducing a state-of-the-art lighting system. Players now use blue light to recover from jet lag and prepare for games and amber light to help them wind down and recover afterwards.

 

Resources

Co-founder Dale Dell'Ario is a member of the Human Centric Lighting Committee and continues to learn and share what he knows. We encourage others to learn more, too. Some suggested resources: