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

Wearable LEDs – LEDs Go Upscale in Fashion

We’re all familiar with the use of LEDs in children’s sneakers when each step a child takes lights up an LED in a sneaker. Now, LEDs are going upscale in clothing with designers taking advantage of LEDs for aesthetics and even going high tech to highlight your mood.

A recent Akris fashion show featured an evening gown studded with LEDs.

A recent Akris fashion show featured an evening gown studded with LEDs.

Swiss design house Akris’s Albert Kriemler used LEDs in his new ready-to-wear collection that premiered in Paris in March. Akris took cues from science and technology in designing his latest collection.  His latest show debuted two long evening dresses and a suit glimmering with constellations of tiny LED lights.

The lume collection features mood-indicating LEDs.

The lume collection features mood-indicating LEDs.

Designer Elizabeth Bigger’s Lüme Collection brings LEDs to the simple black dress and black shirts.  The collection uses embedded LEDs that can be illuminated in patterns controlled from a smartphone to bring a little fun into the clothing.  According to an article in Gizmag, Bigger’s objective was to “create a series of garments that could adapt to the users daily life, changing in color depending on the event, location, mood, or even just to match another garment or accessory.” Using a link via Bluetooth to a smartphone, the LEDs in the clothes can even mirror your mood as posted on social media, the weather forecast, or any other data to which your smartphone has access. Recently, the Lüme Collection won the Jury Prize in the Aesthetic Category at the 17th International Symposium on Wearable Computers.

Sensoree's Mood Sweater helps those with sensory disorders understand and project their moods via LEDs.

Sensoree’s Mood Sweater helps those with sensory disorders understand and project their moods via LEDs.

While most clothing designers focus on aesthetic appeal, the designer of Sensoree’s Mood Sweater focused on the practical with a medical spin. Kristin Neidlinger created the sweater during her MFA design research at the California College of the Arts for people with conditions like autism or sensory processing disorders. The mood indicating sweater can help the sweater wearer actually see how they are feeling and project those feelings to others around them.

According to an interview with The Verge, Neidlinger says she thought of it as strictly a therapeutic device, while the fashion industry started to notice it for both its technical and stylistic creativity. The sweater uses sensors to detect a certain kind of sweat in the palms of the wearer’s hands that varies depending on the wearer’s emotional state, and then translates it into multicolored light emitted by LEDs.

For Further Reading

LEDinside, LEDs Hit the Runway in AKRIS RTW Fall 2014 Collection, http://www.ledinside.com/news/2014/3/leds_hit_the_runway_in_akris_rtw_fall_2014_collection

Gizmag.com, Lüme fashions feature flexible, programmable LEDs, http://www.gizmag.com/lume-fashion-led-smartphone-programmable-wearable-electronics/29300/

The Verge, http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/26/5449322/make-it-work-what-should-fashion-look-like-in-the-age-of-connected-devices