Artificial light has been shown in study after study to negatively affect health. Fluorescent light has been shown to be one of the worst types of artificial light. But it seems almost impossible to get away from it. However, one small change in your work or living environment can make a big difference. You can install decorative light covers, also called fluorescent light filters. Fluorescent light is harmful, but decorative light covers can protect your health.
Light and Human Health
Scientists have long known that there is a link between light and human health. Even centuries ago, long before modern medicine, doctors knew that getting outside in the sun improved health. In fact, in the early days of medicine, there were many types of medical retreats, places where the ill could get closer to nature. Many maladies were blamed on “bad air”. The treatment was to get away to a place with “good air”. They were unknowingly prescribing the outdoors and sunlight.
In addition to its direct medical benefits, sunlight is the clock that guides many biological functions. Humans evolved to live outdoors, and our bodies follow the sun. However, according to a recent study, “People in industrialized societies typically spend approximately 88% of their time in enclosed buildings, sheltered from natural light” (see study here). This leads to a wide variety of negative health outcomes. The leading cause of negative health effects from artificial light has to do with disruptions to the sleep/wake cycle. In particular, too little sleep has a great number of adverse health outcomes. For a more academic discussion of all of the health effects, see this study.
Light, Sleep, and Weight Gain
Too much exposure to light in the evening hours can reduce or prevent the production of melatonin. Melatonin is an essential hormone that regulates sleep and induces tiredness. Exposure to light in the evening blocks melatonin production. This is even worse with exposure to monochromatic blue light. Many electronic devices, including computers and cell phones, produce monochromatic blue light. It is also present in many types of fluorescent light. In short, light, and especially blue light, makes it hard to sleep.
One significant health effect of too little sleep is weight gain. There are a number of mechanisms that affect weight gain. First, studies show that reduced sleep reduces insulin sensitivity. This means that the body doesn’t process our food as it should, leading to more weight gain from the same food intake. Another effect of reduced sleep compounds this problem. It seems that adults who don’t get enough sleep make poor food choices. Adults make about 200 food choices a day. Study participants who had their sleep reduced made less healthy food choices. Some of this effect may be due to an oversensitivity to the food-reward mechanism in the brain.
Taken together, these studies show that too much light, especially fluorescent and electronic light, is a significant contributor to weight gain. We all know that weight gain comes with many health problems. So too much light is incredibly damaging to your health.
Effects of Light on Mood
Sunlight has a substantial impact on mood. This effect is largely due to the fact that sunlight increases serotonin production. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that affects many aspects of the body, both physical and psychological. One effect of increased serotonin is an elevated mood. In other words, sunlight makes people happy. This has been shown to be true in numerous studies, and serotonin production is only one mechanism that accounts for this change in mood.
When exposure to sunlight is reduced, many people can experience a drop in mood or even slight depression. One documented instance of this effect is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD affects people in the fall and winter months when sunlight exposure is reduced. It has the same effects as regular depression, though the effects may be limited to those seasons.
How Fluorescent Light Affects the Body
Besides the effects of artificial light and lack of sunlight in general, fluorescent light can have an especially negative impact on health. Fluorescent light has a number of features that make it worse than other types of artificial light.
First, fluorescent light often shines in the blue end of the light spectrum. This blue light has an especially strong effect on the sleep/wake cycle. So all of the harmful effects of artificial light that have to do with reduced sleep are made worse by fluorescent light. It can also affect the eyes, causing eye strain over time. The effect of eye strain can be slight or rather dramatic. The subtle effect of eye strain is simply fatigue. If you’ve ever experienced an afternoon energy slump while working under fluorescent light, you may have experience eye strain related fatigue. The energy required for the eye to adjust to lousy lighting slowly saps your energy.
Continuing on the theme of fatigue, another feature of fluorescent light also contribute to fatigue. Fluorescent light is often overly bright, especially if it is unfiltered. This glare requires the body to actively respond. For one thing, the muscles in the eye constrict. Along with the muscles in the eye, the muscles in the face may constrict and tense up in an unintentional squint. Tightening these muscles takes energy. Doing it all day can definitely increase or induce fatigue.
Fluorescent Light Flicker
Another unfortunate feature of fluorescent light is its tendency to flicker. While some newer fluorescent lights don’t flicker, many fixtures in offices and homes are not new. These older fixtures flicker because the electrical current that powers the fluorescent light is not constant. The electrical current pulses quickly. The pulsing current produces a high-speed flicker in the light. Although the flicker may be too fast to notice for most people, its effect is nonetheless present. It can cause eye fatigue, headache, and even migraines in some people.
How Decorative Light Covers Can Protect Your Health
With all of these negative effects of fluorescent light, it may seem that there is nothing to do. For those of us who live and work under the constant shine of fluorescent light, the effects may be inescapable. In fact, there is a simple change that can help with many of these negative responses to fluorescent light.
One of the biggest things you can do to protect yourself from fluorescent light is to install decorative light covers. More than simple decorations, Octo Lights’ nature-themed decorative light covers function as fluorescent light filters! This function is vitally important to people who have to spend hours every day under the light of fluorescent fixtures.
Fluorescent light filters can filter out much of the blue light from fluorescent lights. This has multiple benefits. First, it makes it so that the light is not as disruptive to your sleep patterns. Allowing the body to follow a more natural sleep pattern can have a huge impact on overall health. In addition to the changes in sleep habits, getting rid of the blue light lets your eyes relax. Relaxing the muscles in the eyes and face frees up that energy and decreases fatigue.
Another way that fluorescent light filters reduce fatigue is by simply cutting down on the glaring, bright light from fluorescent bulbs. With the light dimmed somewhat, the eyes and face can relax. The glare that was present without a filter is removed. Your eyes don’t have to strain to see.
Fluorescent light filters can also even out the flicker, reducing eye fatigue, headaches, and even migraines.
Ordering Decorative Light Covers
Ordering your decorative light covers from Octo Lights couldn’t be simpler. First, browse our selection of beautiful, naturally inspired designs. Find the one you love, or upload your own. Then, with just a few clicks you can check out, and we’ll get them shipped out in a day or two.
Installation is easy and requires only a flathead screwdriver. Here are the four simple steps:
- Open the tabs to unlock the frame (may require a screwdriver)
- Gently lower the frame, it is connected to the opposite side and should swing downward.
- Now place the light cover (image side down) on top of the light diffuser
- Now that the light cover is flat, raise the frame and lock the tabs.
There’s nothing standing in your way, so order today!