Blue-enriched white light in the workplace improves self-reported alertness, performance and sleep quality

Energy Saving LampResearch carried out at the Surrey Sleep Centre at the University of Surrey in partnership with Philips Lighting has revealed that changing traditional white-light lighting to blue-enriched white light helped office workers stay more alert and less sleepy during the day.
 
The research also showed improvements in subjective measures of positive moods, work performance, fatigue in the evening, irritability, ability to concentrate and focus and eye strain. The workers also reported improved sleep at night.
 
The blue-enriched white light is thought to be more effective because it targets a recently discovered novel photoreceptor in the eye.
 
The research was conducted on 104 white-collar workers on two office floors. After baseline assessments under existing lighting conditions, every participant was exposed to two new lighting conditions, each lasting four weeks.
 
One consisted of blue-enriched white light (17 000 K) and the other of white light (4000 K). The order was balanced between the floors. Questionnaire and rating scales were used to assess alertness, mood, sleep quality, performance, mental effort, headache and eye strain, and mood throughout the eight-week intervention.
 
Professor Derk-Jan Dijk, who lead the experiment comments, “This research may indeed imply that our currently used artificial office lighting is suboptimal for maintaining alertness.”
 
The research was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health.
 
Author Information:
 
Viola AU, James LM, Schlangen LJM, Dijk D-J. Blue-enriched white light in the workplace improves self-reported alertness, performance and sleep quality. Scand J Work Environ Health 2008;34(4):297-306.
 
Full Abstract:
 
OBJECTIVES:
Specifications and standards for lighting installations in occupational settings are based on the spectral sensitivity of the classical visual system and do not take into account the recently discovered melanopsin-based, blue-light-sensitive photoreceptive system. The authors investigated the effects of exposure to blue-enriched white light during daytime workhours in an office setting.
 
METHODS:
The experiment was conducted on 104 white-collar workers on two office floors. After baseline assessments under existing lighting conditions, every participant was exposed to two new lighting conditions, each lasting 4 weeks. One consisted of blue-enriched white light (17 000 K) and the other of white light (4000 K). The order was balanced between the floors. Questionnaire and rating scales were used to assess alertness, mood, sleep quality, performance, mental effort, headache and eye strain, and mood throughout the 8-week intervention.
 
RESULTS:
Altogether 94 participants [mean age 36.4 (SD 10.2) years] were included in the analysis. Compared with white light (4000 K), blue-enriched white light (17 000 K) improved the subjective measures of alertness (P<0.0001), positive mood (P=0.0001), performance (P<0.0001), evening fatigue (P=0.0001), irritability (P=0.004), concentration (P<0.0001), and eye discomfort (P=0.002). Daytime sleepiness was reduced (P=0.0001), and the quality of subjective nocturnal sleep (P=0.016) was improved under blue-enriched white light. When the participants’ expectation about the effect of the light treatments was entered into the analysis as a covariate, significant effects persisted for performance, alertness, evening fatigue, irritability, difficulty focusing, concentrating, and blurred vision.
 
CONCLUSIONS:
Exposure to blue-enriched white light during daytime workhours improves subjective alertness, performance, and evening fatigue.
 
 
 

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