How does Artificial lighting in modern office affecting our eyes, health and sleep?
Nowadays most modern offices, particularly the open space one, have a lot of over the top artificial lighting. This helps with visibility throughout the day. Many people, however, including those with astigmatism, suffer from light sensitive issues resulting in dry eyes, headaches and migraines. In short, the lighting system is too strong for our day to day use.
In addition, the abundance of blue light - coming from these artificial sources - affect the circadian cycle of employees working past sunset. As a result, they struggle sleeping, especially those who use their mobile phones before bed. The direct consequence is they enter a cycle of sleeping and waking up late while compromising on both quantity and quality of sleep.
Sleep deprived employees are less productive at work as they cannot make good decisions and make preventable mistakes - all cutting from the company profits. And management think the best way making their employees more productive and happier is by giving bigger carrots or being more strict. This might work on the short term but will certainly backfire on the longer term. A better solution is giving the options of working from home every now and then.
According to several studies, overly bright illumination result in headache, stress and increased blood pressure while decrease the worker’s efficiency. The Circadian disruption might also entail plenty of health problems on the long term such as cancer.
What is the origin of such lighting system?
The Light bulb was invented around 150 years ago and made popular worldwide by the company General Electric. Before that, natural light from the sun, moon and stars were used especially at night.
Before light bulbs became affordable, gas lamps were used and as light bulbs and fluorescent lamps became economic around the 1950s, companies gradually opted for artificial lighting.
Does it make sense to have this lighting? Are their any real pros in this Artificial lighting system?
Artificial lighting is now a standard in most buildings nowadays.
Construction companies opt for this lighting as they are cheaper to fit and maintain. Others are nevertheless choosing a greener approach by using large window panes for a maximum of natural light.
Importance of Natural Light
It’s important to get enough natural light throughout the day as it:
- enhances your productivity
- helps you with sleep
- improves your mood and general well being.
How to try mitigate this situation if you cannot avoid it?
If there are satellite rooms, you can use them and decrease the light intensity or turn off them.
Use window blinds if present and window dressings if the overall lighting of the office room is overwhelming. Otherwise, natural light is better than to artificial one.
You can also place light bulbs dimmers, either DIY made, like pasting a piece of paper on them or using special materials designed for this problem, or approach the right person to do that if it’s possible.
You can additionally wear special light glasses, clinical proven to reduce migraine, having anti glare coating.
You can moreover use special light sensitive glasses, clinically proven to reduce headache and migraines. These are different from computer glasses with anti-glare coating.
Finally, if you want an urgent solution, you can wear a hat or cap especially if the lights are just above you.
In one of my previous jobs, I struggled with the most basic mundane tasks because of the room lighting, especially lighting panes just in top of my head. I regularly experienced dry eyes, headaches and migraines. Working there was simply uncomfortable for me, thereby directly affecting my productivity.
I tried solving this situation with management to no avail. My colleagues did not want the lights to be dimmed as they would feel sleepy and natural light from window panes was too scarce. I had no solution than to start looking elsewhere. And henceforth, I asked this question in all job interviews I attended.
I believe that proper lighting is the number one productivity concern particularly with people who are light sensitive. I nevertheless have a colleague who prefers working in bright settings. His brightness settings on his laptop and computer screen is at the max; but for me, most of the colleagues I’ve worked with before, have an issue with light and glare in particular.