LEDs, Sleep and SAD –Innovations in Light

Philips Wake Up Light

Philips Wake Up Light

In the past, most people just bought light bulbs without a thought. It was simply about light. There weren’t many extra considerations. Today’s lighting purchase might be made with intelligent applications and even therapeutic reasons in mind, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Light can help prevent or lessen the symptoms of SAD. According to WebMD, as many as 3% of Americans can suffer from SAD in the winter. When people are exposed to less natural light they may develop depression and anxiety, oversleep, and even have difficulty concentrating. Some people who live in extreme areas that depend on artificial light during long winter months without sunlight can use artificial light derived from LED light bulbs for some SAD relief.

Until now, most SAD sufferers needed special light boxes for SAD-related light therapy. LEDs are a natural light therapy source. Light from almost all LEDs used for lighting, displays and even TVs tend to naturally skew towards the blue part of the spectrum. Blue light stimulates a photoreceptor in the eye that reduces the production of the hormone melatonin and helps people stay awake.

LED lighting companies have begun to leverage blue light for those with seasonal disorders and even sleep issues.

Philips tackled the issue of the lack of light during polar winter in a town in the Arctic, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, where they experience dark for four months straight. Longyearbyen is the northernmost town in the world with 2,000 inhabitants (outnumbered by 3,000 polar bears). For two months, 186 volunteers used the Philips Wake-up Light for a study.  Already proven to work in a number of independent clinical studies, the Philips Wake-up Light was used to help wake up the volunteers with gradually increasing LED light prior to the alarm.

After using the Philips Wake-up Light for six weeks during the polar winter, 87% of residents said that they wake up feeling more refreshed, alert and ready for the day. Philips reported that 98% of residents said they would continue to use the Philips Wake-up Light rather than their previous method of waking up.  You can see a video about the experiment here.

Philips also has designed Philips goLITE BLU to help stave off the winter blues. The goLITEBLU provides the right level of blue light to help regulate a body’s clock and improve mood and energy levels. It is more efficient than traditional white light boxes, producing more concentrated light in a considerably smaller form factor.

For those challenged to wake up without hitting the snooze button repeatedly, there’s the Philips HF3500/60 Wake-Up Light that leverages both music and light to wake you up.  Here’s a link to an entertaining review written by a snooze button addict from Gizmodo.

Lighting Science’s Awake and Alert LED lamp brings more blue light to help people stay awake, while the company’s Good Night light reduces the blue light to help people sleep. The company also has designed the Rhythm Downlight with an app that can keep a sleep schedule for shift workers, those in extra long nights in cold climates and even those in space. The app syncs up with a specially designed digital LED light bulb. When it’s time to begin waking, the bulb will emit more blue light to help you wake up. But when it’s time go to sleep, the percentage of blue light is reduced, turning on your melatonin so you can sleep.

For Further Reading

Discover Magazine, Smart Bulb Helps You Sleep and Wake on Schedule, http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2014/04/04/smart-bulb-helps-you-sleep-and-wake-on-schedule/#.U0K5m_l90xF

The New York Times, LEDs Change Thinking about the Light Bulb, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/06/technology/personaltech/leds-change-thinking-about-the-light-bulb.html?_r=0

Philips, Philips Wake Up the Town, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wotUrbYs0QI

Philips, Wake up the Town: Arctic Experiment Results, http://www.digitalnewsroom.philips.com/pressreleases/Wakeup_light_campaign/Philips_Wake_up_the_town_Final_results_report.pdf

Gizmodo, A Light-Up Alarm Completely Changed My Life, http://gizmodo.com/a-light-up-alarm-completely-changed-my-life-1535668863

The Business Standard, Lights are no longer just for lighting, http://www.business-standard.com/article/beyond-business/lights-are-no-longer-just-for-lighting-114031401155_1.html

Street Lights of the Future that Can Fight Crime

Chattanooga’s Coolidge Park (credit: John Bamber)

Street lights in Chattanooga, Tennessee are very smart and they can fight crime too.  A Chattanooga company, Global Green Lighting, has developed the smart street light of the future.  As described in a profile in The Atlantic Cities magazine, the city of Chattanooga was having gang problems in Coolidge Park, one of their city parks. The situation got so bad in 2011 that the city was facing a decision to close the park at dusk or light the park with gigantic flood lights for safety.  Along came Global Green Lighting to save the day!

Global Green Lighting installed a new smart LED lighting system in Coolidge Park.  Not only does the new LED lighting system provide better, less expensive lighting for the park, but the new wirelessly enabled LED lighting system offers the city the ability to work smarter.  Each light can be controlled specifically to turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn. Each light also can turn into a crime fighting tool like a search light or brighten to illuminate a crime scene or trail a suspect as he or she sprints down a road.  While park goers can’t activate the changes in the LED lighting, the lights can be controlled right from a police cruiser on site.

The LED lighting system also brings other advantages for the city.  They can flash warning signals in emergencies like weather alerts. Further, they’ll be wired into the city’s power system and broadband network so the city can plug in devices like air quality sensors, video cameras, or WiFi routers.

After a successful test of 350 lights last year, Chattanooga worked with Global Green Lighting to replace the city’s 26,500 streetlamps at a cost of $18.1 million.  The city estimates that the new lights will save $2.7 million each year when the project is completed in late 2013 and the system will pay for itself within seven years. Further, the system is so smart that it will alert the city when one of the LED lights is having a maintenance issue, letting them know which one needs service.

For Further Reading

Global Green Lighting, www.globalgreenlighting.com

The Atlantic Cities, The Streetlight of the Future Will Do So Much More Than Light Your Street, http://www.theatlanticcities.com/technology/2013/03/streetlight-future-will-do-so-much-more-light-your-street/4958/

BusinessWeek, Chattanooga’s Radio-Operated Streetlamps, http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-05-10/chattanoogas-radio-operated-streetlamps