Smart circadian lighting

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What is circadian lighting?

Circadian lighting is an innovative new trend within the world of biophilic design and its near cousin, healthy design, especially in the home and workplace where we now spend the vast majority of our lives.

So what is it all about and how is smart technology helping us live urban lives that are more closely aligned with our evolutionary past?

Circadian rhythm

The body’s circadian rhythm is essentially our 24-hr body clock; we’re not the only ones to have one either - plants, animals and even funghi share their own version too. It’s literally a part of our DNA, evolving over millions of years as a way of connecting us to the daily ebb and flow of sun and moon.

While each one of us is different, with some experiencing sleepy mornings and others hitting a wall of drowsiness in the afternoon for example, standard hours of activity and rest for the vast majority of people are fairly regulated.

Lighting for productivity

Mental productivity during the hours of work is therefore crucial, as is, conversely, ensuring a solid night’s sleep. Twenty-first century urban lives full of technology and an always on culture however can mean that, if we are not careful, we can all too easily expose ourselves to disrupting factors, especially as the body does not distinguish between natural and artificial light.

Wellness lighting

Enter circadian or wellness lighting is specifically designed to reflect nature’s daily light cycle, prompting periods of mental alertness in the morning and afternoon with light from the blue-white end of the spectrum, before slowly fading into amber hues in the evenings and again in the early mornings.

In practical terms this means you wake up to a soft, gentle light of white-amber, spend your days working in energising white-blue light and relax before bed in the evenings in amber light. Avoiding sources of blue-white light an hour before going to sleep is also recommended, meaning no TV, smartphone or other screen activity!

Smart lighting systems

A number of smart light systems are now readily available in the market making this technology accessible to the general pubic. Our favourite is the Philips HUE that involves one ‘bridge’ box between your wifi router and the lightbulbs in your home (up to 50), plus a simple remote control and an app. We used this set-up in our Biofit nature gyms in Calgary and Stockholm, to great effect.

The two main benefits of such products are improved mental focus by day and sleep quality at night.

For more information on how we can help you integrate this type of healthy design solution into your office or home, contact us via the Contact page.


Matt Morley