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Right lighting for healthcare employees and their patients

This week we’re looking at lighting in three dimensions of healthcare – and a couple of personal interests at the end…

Premature babies

Over 300,000 preterm babies are admitted to NICU units in the States every year at a critical developmental stage. This article points out that they are exposed to an excess of chemicals, light and sound and deprived of touch and speech with long term outcomes that we do not yet fully understand. It offers a review of ‘critical modifiable factors impacting the neurobehavioral health of hundreds of thousands of children each year.’ – Impact of hospital-based environmental exposures on neurodevelopmental outcomes of preterm infants

Older people

Sleep loss in the hospital is associated with worse health outcomes, including cardiometabolic derangements and an increased risk of delirium. This article reviews non-pharmacological interventions – including circadian lighting… – Sleep in Hospitalized Older Adults

This study has a number of flaws in the design but it does offer some interesting ideas and some striking findings in terms of the frequency and duration of night-time bed wandering and daytime napping. Worth a read. – Biodynamic lighting effects on the sleep pattern of people with dementia

Staff turnover

High staff absenteeism is an expensive headache for the healthcare sector. This project engaged clinical staff in making decisions about their working environment including the lights – and reduced absenteeism by 27%… A lighting upgrade designed in collaboration with the team suddenly looks like a good investment. – Employee engagement and absenteeism: A step towards improving patient care

What do nurses want from the lighting? This paper found that nurses ‘noted fewer patient complaints, needed less supplemental lighting and were more satisfied with their working environment in a ‘’Contemporary environment of care’ (zones of control, bedside lights) compared to a ‘traditional’ one.’ – Nurses’ Satisfaction With Patient Room Lighting Conditions: A Study of Nurses in Four Hospitals With Differences in the Environment of Care


As we approach the longest day of the year, I have often wondered why we aren’t more strongly affected by the difference – and this fascinating article suggests that around 75% of us simply are not producing a strong enough melatonin response to track the seasons. Women, young adults and those who experience SAD seem to have a more marked seasonal difference. – Running on Empty: Of Hypopinealism and Human Seasonality

The ECOSTRESS Thermal Radiator mounted on the the International Space Station has been tracking changes in the leaves as they ‘wake up’… another reason to reduce light pollution at night… – ECOSTRESS Sees Plants Waking Up

And my passion for pattern…

Some of you may know about my work with glass and ongoing collaborations with mathematicians and crystallographers. I’ve just finished laser-cutting the last batch of over 200 beautiful tiles at the Wheatstone Lab at King’s College in London inspired by the incredible work of Professor Michael Mampusti and Professor Mike Whittaker –  Their paper presents the first-ever quasiperiodic tiling pattern made up from a single tile with a wonderful dentritic pattern. Their work cracked a puzzle that has stumped mathematicians for centuries – including the great Sir Roger Penrose- I was lucky enough to work with him to create glass versions of his two-tile version. Please join Professor Brian Sutton and I to build this stunning pattern by hand for the first time ever next Tuesday in Milton Keynes. The project has been commissioned by the Open University as part of a celebration of the life and work of the brilliant Professor Uwe Grimm. – Aperiodic tilings

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