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Light is a tonic


For this week, I’ve gathered some articles about lighting in the healthcare setting,

Harnessing the power of light – particularly daylight – to help patients get better quickly is not exactly new as this brilliant review from Steven Lockley points out .. – What Florence Nightingale Can Teach Us about Architecture and Health

Light at night, particularly the blue-enriched overhead luminaires that are so common in a hospital setting is a particular problem because it stops patients getting the sleep they need. This research demonstrated the potential for a simple rechargeable dim blue-depleted portable light ‘pod’ to make a difference. In this small pilot study, patients reported a small but significant 2-point average improvement on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. 8 out of 10 of the care providers who used it in this trial responded that ‘the lighting pods provided adequate lighting for overnight care tasks’… Occam’s razor in action? – Effect on nurse and patient experience: overnight use of blue-depleted illumination

This project builds on that concept -two nurses were frustrated by the need to wake their patients up at night and fumbling with clumsy controls and came up with their own solution- Nurse-led startup manufactures wearable led light to illuminate workspaces without disturbing patient sleep

Light at night is not the only problem – not enough light during the day is equally problematic. This project pointed out that medical in-patients are exposed to light levels insufficient for circadian entrainment and tested the impact of higher light exposure. Higher light exposure was associated with less fatigue and lower total mood disturbance in participants with pain, suggesting the need for further investigation to determine if manipulating light exposure for medical inpatients would be beneficial in affecting sleep–wake disturbances, mood and pain. – Hospital lighting and its association with sleep, mood and pain in medical inpatients

The problem is not just for patients. Stress and burn-out among healthcare workers is a global emergency that is costing us all dearly. One of the contributing factors to that high level of anxiety that leads a shocking 1% of physicians to take their own lives through suicide, is the fear of making a mistake. – Prioritizing the Mental Health and Well-Being of Healthcare Workers: An Urgent Global Public Health Priority. The second article – Selected Medication Safety Risks That Can Easily Fall Off the Radar Screen—Part 3 – points out that although natural light from windows is obviously preferable, many spaces in a hospital simply don’t have that luxury. It points out that the role of lighting in medical errors can fall off the radar and offers some practical guidance.

For a bit of light relief… 

This article explains how cats see the world – This Is How Cats See the World

And this classic quiz identifies your chronotype and how you can use that knowledge to power up your routine – What’s Your Chronotype?

And finally, it was a delight to e-meet so many of you at the Drivers for Change debate that I hosted with John Bullock last year with guests from Arup, Cundall, Morgan Sindall, Muse, the SLL and the WELL Building Institute. We had so many calls to host a follow up that we’ve done just that. It’s a complete privilege to invite you to meet our brilliant panelists and add your voices to the conversation. Thursday 28th April at 4-5:30pm via zoom. Register here

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