Colour me happy
Light affects productivity in many ways and not just by helping us to see more clearly.
The facts are that everything we see is light reflected into the eye. For most of us, most of our sensory perception is governed by our sight, and all light is definitely not the same. Our performance and how we feel are heavily influenced by the light we live under. Shedding a different light, can change what we are able to see and how we feel.
The basic physiology of vision has been understood for the best part of a century, but it is only in the last twenty years that scientists have begun to explore and understand a second non-visual pathway through which different light colour temperatures affect how we feel.
As well as rod and cone cells in the retina which send information to the brain’s visual cortex, we also now know that other cells in the eye respond to light by sending signals to the hypothalamus – an area of the brain which plays no part in forming images.
So, what does it do? Well, the hypothalamus is primarily responsible for the secretion of hormones, which in turn shape a number of our physical responses like body temperature, hunger, and the need for sleep. What is more, the colour and wavelengths present in light transmitted to the hypothalamus can affect our moods, alertness and impulsivity.
The Experience Design Group at the University of Leeds have been experimenting with different light colours to evaluate the effects. They report an increase in heart rate under blue light and a similar decrease under red light. Lead researcher Professor Stephen Westland points to Japan, where blue lights installed on train platforms in 2009 reduced the incidence of rail suicides by 74%, supporting the notion that light affects us in ways that go far beyond our vision.
The Professor does go on to say that it is “becoming increasingly difficult to separate claims for the effects of colour that are supported by data, from those which are based on intuition or tradition”. Professor Westland’s work and the research of many others now active in researching the impacts of light will bring more evidence to our collective understanding of light and its impacts on human beings, as the ultimate drug on which we all depend.
Click here to see a light built with productivity in mind.
Sources: 1. The Conversation: Does colour really affect our mind and body? A professor of colour science explains 2. Science Alert: Here's How Colours Really Affect Our Brain And Body, According to Science