Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Light and the Body

I always wondered why the weather would have an effect on my mood. When I wake up to sunshine, I feel energetic and cheerful, but on a dark dreary day, I feel very lazy and sluggish. Our moods vary in response to natural light, which is uplifting and therapeutic. This is why adequate lighting is an important aspect of a design. "A well designed lighting plan makes use of high levels of illumination to enhance energy and emotion and will provide low, subtle lighting to encourage relaxation and a mellow feeling" ("Interiors: an Introduction").

Effects on the mind and body

Large areas of bright light stimulate a physical and emotional surge of energy, which may cause fatigue after long periods of exposure. The mind becomes very bored and can sometimes cause a feeling of illness.
Moderate to low levels of light give an "inviting, cozy, intimate feeling". This type of lighting is accomplished with the use of dimmer switches and can often be found in restaurants. It also helps establish perimeter of a room and produces a sense of security.
 Colored light can also have an effect of a person. Warm white lights are welcoming and uplifting. Cool colored lights (blue, green, purple) produce a calm, restful environment, but can become "unfriendly, cold, and depressing" after prolonged exposure. Bright colors (red, orange, yellow) produce eyestrain, which leads to a feeling of physical exhaustion as the mind struggles with coping with the intensity ("Interiors: an Introduction").

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is a great example of how lighting can affect our mind and body. This disorder occurs when winter approaches and disappears as spring begins. The symptoms are as follows: lethargy, irritability, increased desire to sleep and eat.

Glare, an excessive light that causes irritation and fatigue, can also have negative effects on the mind and body. Dark areas surrounding lighted areas can cause eyestrain, fatigue, and even depression, as peripheral vision constantly has to deal with the drastic dark-bright contrast. We encounter glare every day, as we watch television or while we are driving, but there are a few ways to reduce glare.
  1. Window treatments, such as shades or blinds, block the light that comes from the sun.
  2. To reduce glare from artificial lighting, a person can lower their wattage usage, use a cool-beam lamp (type of light that is designed to redirect its heat away from the light beam), adjust the direction of the lighting source, or use baffles (a device such as a board or grid that deflects light, either to direct it or to prevent glare).

In one of my previous post "Making Theory a Reality", I talked about light and how it affects all the other elements of design, but I hope this post shed some light on the effects it has on the mind and body.

Work Cited

Nielsen, Karla, and David Taylor. Interiors: An Introduction. 5th ed. New York: Mc-Graw Hill, 2011. 109-111. Print.

No comments:

Post a Comment