The human body is susceptible to light in a variety of ways. Light can play a role in combating depression through vitamin D absorption, aid in the concentration of students taking a test, and have an effect sleeping habits. The latter correlation to light has been widely studied in terms of hospital room lighting.
A study conducted to monitor the ability of a hospital patient to get adequate sleep needed for recovery has uncovered more about this unique relationship humans have with light. According to an article in Reuters regarding the study, “On average, patients in the study were exposed to only about 105 lux, a measure of light emission in a given area. Normal office lighting provides about 500 lux and a sunny day can represent as much as 100,000 lux. Past studies have found that a minimum of 1500 lux for 15 minutes per day is necessary to establish a normal sleep-wake cycle but at least 4000 lux over the course of eight hours is preferred for sleep health, Bernhofer's team writes in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.”
The bottom line is that humans, especially those in a hospital room, need adequate exposure to light, whether natural or artificial, to achieve a good night of rest. If you are in charge of designing hospital room lighting or looking to make a change to the existing plan of your location, here are 5 tips to help you maximize the potential of your lighting solutions.
- Up the lumen output. The relationship between lux and lumen is a close one. The higher the lumen output, the more lux per square foot. While you don’t want the light to be too bright, the general consensus seems to be that hospital room lighting is already too low in lumen output.
- Consider dimmable options. Patients should have access to dimmable lighting solutions, as this lets them have control over the brightness based on their own needs.
- Use different types of lighting fixtures. While overhead lighting is the best bet for general lighting, especially when adequate illumination may be needed to perform important tasks, there should be more than just that one type of fixture. Adding wall sconces that provide gentle uplight can not only create ambient lighting to relax patients, it can also work towards them meeting the daily lux exposure for better sleep.
- Don’t be afraid to mix color indexes. While the rule of thumb for most lighting areas, is to stay with one temperature range, either warms or cools, and not mix them because it can be too stark of a contrast for the eyes, it can work to your advantage in a hospital room. For example, having warmer temperatures can help mimic natural daylight which helps patients while cool temperatures can be ideal for the staff performing tasks. Incorporating both ends of the color spectrum is ideal for hospital room lighting.
- Keep in mind the special needs of nighttime lighting. While studies have shown that patients need exposure to bright lights during the day, nighttime lighting should also be considered. While pitch black darkness has been proven to provide the best conditions for a deep sleep, many patients feel more comforted by having some lights as nighttime guides. A good tip here is to choose lighting that is low to the ground placed along walkways or walls to avoid distraction. You should also use lights that are amber, yellow, or orange instead of brighter whites to make it easier on the eyes while stilling providing guiding lights in the middle of the night.
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