Lighting Research Center Lighting Research Center
Light & Health

Researching how light can be used to promote health and wellbeing

Every day, more people become interested in the potential benefits of light and dark, especially its effects on human health and wellbeing.

Biological rhythms that repeat approximately every 24 hours are called circadian rhythms. Light is the main stimulus that helps the circadian clock, and thus circadian rhythms, keep a synchronized rhythm with the 24-hour solar day. Humans need to be exposed to a sufficient amount of light for the biological clock to remain synchronized with the solar day. If lack of synchrony or circadian disruption occurs, we may experience decrements in physiological functions, neurobehavioral performance, and sleep.

Lighting characteristics that are effective to the circadian system are different than those effective to the visual system. In order to apply light to mitigate the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, seasonal affective disorder, jet lag, or sleep deprivation, we need a better understanding of the quantity, spectrum, timing, duration, and distribution of light that is effective for the circadian system. The Light and Health program at the LRC bridges the gap between science and applications by striving to better understand how the visual and circadian systems work and what lighting characteristics affect them.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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