Light has always been important to me.
Ever since my old BYU days where I lived in a basement apartment with little natural light and experienced some depression because of it, I have focused on keeping my home and life full of light. With winter gone and spring in full swing, light is a commodity that we are enjoying once again.
A recent study authored by Hansen Lighting with support from the BYU statistics department found that not only does healthy (LED-based) light improve happiness, but it can also improve our mental health by strengthening attention spans, resilience and group engagement and cooperation.
Healthy lighting improves attention span
Researchers in the Hansen Lighting study measured the capabilities and mindset of children building block towers. By the end of 38 trials with 19 different children, 67% of the children showed a significantly increased attention span while working in healthy lighting, with an average increase of 32%.
Other research also has shown that healthy lighting improves the quality of attention spans, or the ability to pay attention and learn. “Besides improving human performance, variable lighting … exerts a great influence on both the physical and mental conditions of humans,” said Dr. Hyeon-Jeong Suk of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
With healthy lighting improving both the length and quality of your attention span, it might be time to get back to that budget proposal or that one project you just haven’t had the patience for.
Healthy lighting improves resilience and happiness
We’ve all heard Thomas Edison’s now-famous quote that it took him 10,000 tries to invent the light bulb. Perhaps that determination came from working with healthy light.
When measuring resilience, the Hansen Lighting researchers found that resilience improved by 88% among test subjects. But that was only in the individual tests: when tested as a group, the children showed a 125% increase in resilience.
One factor that contributes to emotional resilience is happiness — another effect of healthy lighting. Light encourages the production of serotonin, a chemical that contributes to wellness and happiness.
In one Harvard study, researchers divided individuals suffering from depression into three groups, then gave them different treatments. The group who received light treatment saw the best results, with over half of the group reporting that their depression was alleviated.
Healthy lighting improves group engagement and cooperation
We’ve all been part of a group where we do most of the work and the rest of the team is there for “moral support.” As researchers showed here, perhaps we needed to give our group better lighting.
Researchers in the Hansen Lighting study found that when switching children from normal to healthy lighting, group engagement improved by 33%, and groups demonstrated 10 times more cooperation.
Though the study was conducted with children as test subjects, the implications for adolescents and adults are significant. In your education, work, or simple errands of daily life, you may want to consider improving your lighting for a longer attention span, increased resilience, and a better group experience.
A version of this article was published by the Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.