You’ve probably heard of circadian rhythms, the natural body cycles that help us to do things like fall asleep at nighttime and be active during the day.
Now, a group of researchers are working to manipulate those rhythms to make us more productive at work.
“Clients are increasingly requesting and expecting lighting systems and applications that can support human health and well-being,” Mariana Figueiro and Mark Rea, professors at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, wrote in Architectural Lighting recently.
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Multiple tests now show that humans are particularly sensitive to blue light — basically, the main color we see when we’re outdoors. Blue’s main effect is to suppress melatonin, the brain chemical that can make us feel sleepy.
As Scientific American noted in November, a 2011 investigation by Christian Cajochen, the head of the Center for Chronobiology at the University of Basel, found that volunteers exposed to a blue-based, LED-backlit computers for five hours in the evening “produced less melatonin, felt less tired, and performed better on tests of attention than those in front of a fluorescent-lit screen of the same size and brightness.”
Researchers are thus increasingly advising office designers to include as much daylight-like blue in their offices as possible.
On the flip side, the color red, which many might view as a brighter, more striking color, is actually more conducive to functioning at night.