“If you boost the lighting at certain times of day, you’ll get a better performance from workers,” remarks Dr Martine Knoop, a senior lighting specialist at Philips Lighting, commenting on the study that took place at Bartenbach Lichtlabor in Austria. The scientists found in 2007 that if offices used more adjustable lighting, the employees working within them would work more productively.
1. They drastically brightened the lights for half an hour at 9.30am and an hour at 1pm from a normal level of 500 lux to 1800 lux.
2. At the same time, they measured levels of melatonin, the hormone that tells us it is time to sleep, and found the lighting reversed the sleepy feelings sometimes felt at these times of day.
A key finding:
The conclusion is simple: if you are tired, turn up the lights. The connection between the effect of lighting on alertness was demonstrated in 2002, when David Berson, a US neuroscientist, identified a receptor in the human eye that connects to the main inner body clock. Since then, a whole branch of lighting and ergonomics, the study of efficiency at work, has blossomed. “We know we can do something about this problem; there’s an awareness about it, and we think we can support people out there,” states Dr Knoop. The more widespread use of adjustable lighting, it seems, is the answer to our discomfort; perhaps not a remarkable finding.