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Lighting for Mental Performance

Lighting for Mental Performance

 

You invest a lot to create a productive environment. Depending on who you are and what you do, that investment could be putting up acoustic panels in an open office, reconfiguring the shipping stations in a distribution center, installing mobile furniture in a classroom, or buying an ergonomic chair for a work-from-home setup.

 But no matter the setting, there’s a significant (and often overlooked) connection between lighting and productivity.

Studies have shown that inadequate lighting can lead to poor concentration, lower test scores for students, and a negative impact on mental health.

Conversely, with the right lighting solutions in place, you can help boost performance. For example, a study in Germany carried out by ZNL and Osram found some surprising results in relation to lighting and mental ability. The study showed that students working under biologically-optimized classroom lights consistently outperformed the comparison group in tests that assessed attributes like concentration and speed.

Light can also play a role in how you feel, which can in turn impact mental ability. A lack of proper lighting can lead to depression, especially occurrences of what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

In short, if you’re looking to create lighting for better concentration and lighting to boost happiness, read on.

1.  Optimize Color Temperature

Color temperature refers to the feeling of warmth that a light fixture puts out. That feeling of warmth can impact your mood.

There’s a pretty wide spectrum of colors ranging from 1,000K (which has a reddish hue) to 10,000k (which looks blue). But most home and commercial lighting fall in the 3,000K to 5,000K range.

A “warm” color temperature (around 3,000K) has a yellow-ish glow it while a “cool” color temperature (around 5,000K) has a whiter appearance.

While a warm color temperature may be appropriate for a dining or family room, it’s not usually ideal for a work or classroom environment because it can make people sleepy.

A cooler temperature between 4,000K and 5,000K better mimics natural daylight which in turn affects our internal clock to make us more productive. In addition, a cooler temperature makes it easier to see details (like the text on the pages of a book) so it can help reduce eyestrain.

Mitigate Glare

Since most people spend their time looking at computer screens, reducing glare is an important consideration. Why? Glare can cause productivity killers like eyestrain, fatigue, and in some cases headaches.

Overhead lights are a primary contributor to screen glare. Fortunately, there are a few strategies to mitigate glare:

  • Use up lights and other indirect lighting sources
  • Layer your light sources so that light comes from multiple directions
  • Choose light fixtures that feature diffusers and other anti-glare features

Eliminate Shadows

Another pitfall of overhead lighting is it can create shadows. A bright workspace dotted with dark shadows can also cause productivity-robbing eyestrain.

To combat shadows, complement your overhead lights with side lighting that’s situated at least 10 feet away from any work areas or workstations.

Optimize Distance to Overhead Lights

If lights are too far away, a workspace will feel dim. Overhead light fixtures should ideally hang between 20 and 50 feet away.

You’ll be constrained somewhat by the height of your ceilings. However, there are a couple of ways to accommodate this:

  • Change the height of many overhead fixtures by adjusting the length of the cables or chains used to hang the fixture.
  • Choose fixtures with the correct lumen output for your ceiling height (this is often listed in the specifications of a light fixture).

Switch to LED Lights

When it comes to lighting for productivity and lighting for concentration, LED is the clear winner for a variety of reasons:

  • LED most closely mimics natural light, helping to boost mood.
  • LED fixtures often offer built-in diffusers and other glare-reduction features.
  • Many LED fixtures offer features to prevent casting shadows.
  • LED lights are flicker-free (light flicker also causes eyestrain). 

Want to learn more? The lighting pros at Warehouse Lighting have the knowledge and experience to help you select the perfect lighting solution for your home or commercial space’s unique needs. Give us a call at 888-454-4480 or visit our Contact Us page.

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