When you’re designing a care facility there are various factors that must be considered and lighting is one of them. We have all felt the effects on our mood and energy on days when it is cloudy and rainy outside compared to when it’s bright and sunny with blue skies.
Natural lighting can have a positive impact on well-being and mental health and lack of natural lighting can have detrimental effects.
In 2018, a study by experts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York highlighted the negative impact that lack of natural light can have, particularly on those with dementia. Study findings showed that by increasing natural light during the day and reducing the levels of light at night, the bodies circadian rhythm was reset, which had a hugely positive impact on care home residents. (Lowther, 2019)
Making sure there are ample windows and doors in residents rooms are key. Where possible create bright and airy rooms. Doors opening out onto open space is ideal and skylights can help let more natural light in minimising the use for artificial lighting. Although brighter lights are important for carrying out nursing tasks, try to mix this in with softer mood lighting for when the resident is relaxing.
Here’s a few ways lighting can affect you:
Think of lighting in a nice restaurant compared to a fast food restaurant. Dim lighting in a restaurant makes you eat slower and the bright lights of a fast food restaurant makes you feel happier so you eat more without paying as much attention to the calories you’re consuming. The lighting on food can also affect how it tastes!
Drowsiness and fatigue
Employees often get tired at work and then turn to social media or music to liven themselves up. Letting more natural light in can boost their moods and energy as well as helping an individuals eyesight.
Mood and depression
A study in 2014 showed that those with windows in their spaces of work got more sleep and exercised more than those who didn’t. Lighting also effects your mental health and people suffering with depression benefit from getting vitamin D from the natural light to improve your sense of wellbeing.
Sloane and colleagues (1998) found that residents in facilities with low light levels displayed higher agitation levels.
Exposure to the bright morning light reduces agitation among elderly patients with dementia. (Joseph, 2006)
A study found that patients in a hospital exposed to an increased intensity of sunlight experienced less perceived stress, needed less analgesic medication per hour and had less pain medication costs compared to a patient on the dimmer side of the hospital. (Joseph, 2006)
Next time you feel sluggish, tired, have a headache or dip in your mood try and change the lighting. Get outside or open the blinds and see what happens.
Joseph, A. (2006). Impact of Light on Outcomes in Healthcare Settings | The Center for Health Design. [online] Healthdesign.org. Available at: https://www.healthdesign.org/chd/research/impact-light-outcomes-healthcare-settings [Accessed 9 Dec. 2019].
Lowther, J. (2019). How more natural light can positively impact wellbeing. The Care Environment, p.40.
Sloane, P. D., Mitchell, C. M., Preisser, J., Phillips, C., Commander, C., & Burker, E. (1998). Environmental correlates of resident agitation in Alzheimer’s disease special care units. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 46, 862-869.