Light gives health in healthcare

Light is a powerful source of energy in work, healing and life in general. Research has shown that natural light plays a significant role in the work and wellbeing of healthcare professionals, not to mention patient recoveries. A well lit space not only reduced discomfort and suffering, it can also save money.

Two research studies

Can good lighting compensate low daylight levels?

Together with researchers at Lund University, Fagerhult has clarified the relationship between light, alertness, wellbeing and performance.

This is what we came up with »

Can the right lighting shorten hospitalisation?

It was one of the questions at the forefront of a study at Södra Älvsborgs Hospital in Borås. Can variations in the colour and intensity of light help intensive care patients to find their way back to their circadian rhythm?

Read about the study »

The important balance between darkness and light

The circadian rhythm, a biological process which regulates the alteration between sleep and wakefulness, is primarily controlled by light.

Can be disturbed when working in shift

The human circadian rhythm is approximately 24 hours, and to keep this rhythm undisturbed, it is important that the balance between light and darkness, sleep and awake is maintained.
When exposed to constant light or darkness our rhythm is disturbed, for instance shift-work or travelling through different time zones.

More alert staff and faster healing

Several international studies in healthcare have shown that increased levels of natural light creates a pleasant working environment and makes the nursing staff feel better 1).

Natural daylight helps

Additional research states nurses who reside in daylight for at least three hours per day, feel less stressed than those with less exposure. The availability of daylight in the early hours of the morning and the night/day light cycles are key factors in the circadian rhythm. For staff working the day shift, the right levels of light contribute towards increased alertness and better sleep quality at night. By the same principle, a disturbed circadian rhythm affects both patient comfort and recovery.

A lack of sleep increases stress, weakens the immune system and can lead to respiratory problems and disturbances in body temperature. This will of course affect healing and prolong their hospitalisation.

Suppresses depression and shorten length of stay

Research has shown that light, daylight or bright artificial light, suppresses depression. It has highlighted the effectiveness of light therapy, stating that in some instance the results are comparable to those you may get with antidepressants drugs.⁵⁾ Other studies have found that depressed patients recover better in rooms with more daylight. ⁶⁾

Reduced pain and consumption of analgesics

Patients experience less pain if their rooms have good access to daylight, which may reduce the need for pain relief. A study carried out with surgical patients compared those in areas with a higher degree of natural light with patients who had rooms in the same building which were in shadow.

The patients who got more daylight experienced less pain and lower stress levels, consuming 22 percent less painkillers. Something that reduced drug costs in a corresponding degree. ⁷⁾

Lower risk of inaccurate dosing

A good working light is important for all professions, but the management of advanced technology and medicine magnifies these requirements in healthcare. A study of hospital pharmacies shows that the risk of an incorrect mixing ratio was 37 percent higher at light levels from 450 to 1000 lux on the working surfaces. When the light level was increased to 1500 lux the pharmacists made far fewer mistakes. ⁸⁾

em>Sources. A large part of the information is taken from a Swedish report ”The good ward”, a final report from Program for technical standard (PTS Forum) and the Centre for healthcare architecture, Chalmers 2011.

1. Verderber and Reuman, 1987, Mrockzek et al., 2005, 2005.
2. Alimoglu och Donmez, 2005.
3. Rhea, 2004.
4. Wallace et al., 1999. Krachman et al., 1995; Parthasarathy and Tobin, 2004.
5. Golden et al., 2005.
6. Beauchemin and Hays, 1996; 1998; Benedetti et al., 2001.
7. Walch et al., 2005
8. Buchanan et al., 1991.