BLUE LIGHT ALEVIATES SLEEP DISORDERS WHILE
IMPROVING HOME AND WORKPLACE PERFORMANCE
LAURENCE D. MARTEL, PH.D.
Disruptions in the circadian rhythm—the sleep-wake cycle—can have an impact on body and brain functions, diminishing our ability to perform daily activities, including work activities. In an issue of Employment Relations Today, Joseph F. Coates, in his article, “Sleeping on the Job: Some Considerations for HR,�? includes alarming statistics from a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, which found that 51 percent of the U.S. workforce reported sleepiness on the job interfering with their work. Forty percent admitted that the quality of their work might suffer when they are sleepy, and 19 percent reported making occasional to frequent work errors due to sleepiness. Coates said that “Sleep disorders are extremely common, affecting as many as 40 million Americans, with around 25 percent of adults reporting having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. He concluded that, “Overall, employees estimated that the quality and quantity of their work diminished by about 30 percent when they were sleepy. Despite the growing awareness that most sleepy workers cannot be stellar performers, little is being done to change business practices to correct the problem.�?
Michigan psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Field, stated in a recent interview with me that when he and his staff use light therapy with blue-light fluorescent light and task lamps (from Full Spectrum Solutions, Inc.) to treat his patients for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), patients improve much faster with sustained levels of improvement. He found similar results in treating patients for many other psychological problems as well. Even Dr. Field’s office staff has reported noticeable improvements in their own work performance and reduced fatigue with full-spectrum lights and enhanced blue phosphor lamps.
One scientist and inventor has responded to the challenge of scientific discoveries on light and vision and has pushed against the tide of traditional light theory and manufacturing. Michael Nevins, of Full Spectrum Solutions, Inc., of Jackson, Michigan, and Affiliate Member of the California Lighting Research Center at the University of California-Davis, has designed, developed, and produced patented lamps with a special blend of multi-phosphors (BlueMax Lighting™), which has a spectrum that mimics daylight, but favors the blue wave length. These lamps hold great promise for enhancing the quality of life in home and work settings, as well as providing therapy and increased work performance. (See www.bluemaxlighting.com.) They also could be helpful in retarding the effects of a major problem in our society, namely, sleep disorders.
In an interview in May 2005, I asked Michael Nevins (Full Spectrum Solutions) why there were not many products available that responded to the scientific evidence about blue light. He said, “It is not easy to find the right balance and to produce the combination necessary to mimic daylight and bring it indoors. But it is possible, and the lighting products I have designed are a blue-light enhancement, which takes lighting to a higher level of visual accuracy, clarity, and comfort. I have finally developed a lamp that registers the same color temperature as noonday sunlight, which is 5900 degrees Kelvin. Because of this, outdoor sunlight can be brought into our offices, factories, and homes. However, most lighting designers, architects, and manufacturers prescribe 70-year-old technology.�?
In response to the new scientific discoveries about the human eye and visual clarity, Nevins continued, “The BlueMax Lighting ™ products produce 4,300 lumens (brightness) of simulated daylight indoors and is equal in brightness to a 300 watt halogen bulb, without the heat. A major new result of this unique, special blend of phosphors, (including additional blue phosphors), is that BlueMax™ lamps produce the highest Color Rendering Index (CRI) of any full spectrum lamp available on the market from the lighting industry. These available lamp products have been independently tested by three separate laboratories at 96 CRI, compared to the noon day sunlight standard of 100 CRI.�?
To provide individual comfort at the work station, Nevins said, “I patented a dimmable switch for a lamp bulb that lasts 10,000 hours. The desk and floor models are made of sturdy metal and can be used both as work and task lamps when concentration is required. A major research university has just completed a study comparing the new blue lamps with halogen lights and found increased visual capability and accuracy, without the dangers of heat and high energy waste. You can read the research and compare the available office and industrial lighting products for scotopically enhanced optimal light at www.bluemaxlighting.com .�?
We now have a way to increase the productivity, effectiveness, and well-being of employees, reduce accidents, save energy costs, and improve the important bottom line. The scotopic side of lighting shows promise for improving vision, clarity, focus and performance, while reducing headaches, attention deficits, and other physical and psychological problems that can stand in the way of employees’ and their companies’ success.