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Mind’s Eye – world mental health week – and an invitation

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK.

The theme this year is movement.

So what does that have to do with light?

An outside view boosts mental health and can even make you more likely to move around – Impact of Windows and Daylight Exposure on Overall Health and Sleep Quality of Office Workers: A Case-Control Pilot Study.

But even if you don’t have a window, set a timer to stand up, or just lean away from your screen for 2-3 minutes every 30 minutes. That will help you to be more productive and reduce your risk of feeling dry, itchy and tired eyes at the end of the day – Effects of active microbreaks on the physical and mental well-being of office workers: A systematic reviewComputer Vision Syndrome: An Ophthalmic Pathology of the Modern EraPrevalence of computer vision syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

A micro-break will even increase energy,  reduce fatigue and improve overall performance – “Give me a break!” A systematic review and meta-analysis on the efficacy of micro-breaks for increasing well-being and performance.

So if you’re in a meeting or webinar today, you can do your bit to boost morale by inviting everyone to stand up and find a reason to smile every 30 minutes. You’ll create social bonds, buffer stress and even make you physically healthier too – How and why could smiling influence physical health? A conceptual review.


International Day of Light tomorrow! 

We all live under the same sun.

But no two people see the world the same way.

Even your left and right eyes have a different view- try taking off your glasses and closing one eye.

The physical ‘hardware’ of your eye and brain is one reason for our diversity.

But processing, context and expectation are critical too as the famous ‘blue and gold’ dress controversy shows – what colours do you see? – Why did some people see a gold and white dress?

There is no right or wrong.

Just your unique perspective at a given moment in time.

SAP’s pioneering Autism at Work programme illustrates the return on investment of active organisational support for their diverse team – The Win-Win Potential of Hiring Neurodiverse Workers.

Their evidence is supported by scientific research too: When we feel supported by our organisation, we adapt more quickly to fast-moving markets, we’re more productive and suffer less from stress-related illness – Organizational Support and Adaptive Performance: The Revolving Structural Relationships between Job Crafting, Work Engagement, and Adaptive Performance.

And yet, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has come recent under attack as yet another form of well-washing and political control – DEI efforts are under siege. Here’s what experts say is at stake.

So it’s even more important for organisations to demonstrate they’re walking the walk when it comes to their DEI programme. 

Here are three adaptations implemented by some of our speakers at the panel debate tomorrow:

  • Flexibility – provide a range of spaces and schedules to avoid sensory overload and accommodate extreme chronotypes
  • Feedback and peer support – allow time, quiet space and a range of modalities including written and verbal, face to face and online to support different communication and processing styles
  • Physical adjustments and assistive technologies – adjustable brightness and colour temperature without flicker or glare, daylight control, monitor resolution and contrast, video call set-up at home and in the office to support hyper and hypo-sensitivity to light and pattern. 


I’m looking forward to hearing about these and other key lessons tomorrow with AHMM Architects, Arup, Buro Hapold, Harwell Science Park, Leesman and the RNIB. Link to connect with our hosts at Zumtobel is here – DESIGN FOR NEURODIVERSITY.


Light during the day is great – 

but it needs to be dark at night if you want to get the quality and quantity of sleep you need and reduce your risk of a depressing catalogue of physical and mental health complaints – House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report: Impact of noise and light pollution on human health.

Just one night under a regular overhead light is enough to increase your risk of feeling down the next day – Light exposure during sleep impairs cardiometabolic function.

So how much do you need?

The current benchmark for light in the evening is less than 10 melanopic lux, and at night time it’s less than 1 melanopic lux.

But what does that actually mean? 

‘Standard’ lux, or photopic lux, is how bright a light source will look to the average visual system – your rods and cones.

Melanopic lux is a new measure which defines how much a light source will activate your visual system plus a special set of cells in the eye that contain a protein called melanopsin, sensitive to sky blue wavelengths.

The brightness that counts is the level that reaches your eye, so it depends on how far away you are from the light – a bit like sound- it gets softer the further away you go.

A standard overhead light with an 8-watt LED lightbulb in a paper shade delivers around 100 watts and around 45 melanopic lux – that’s way too bright. 

My laptop, checking some messages is up there at almost 40 lux and 28 Melanopic lux – that’s enough to keep me on high alert!

My bedside light, fitted with a warm white LED gives around 30 lux, and just under 10 melanopic lux – so I’m good to go.

And for night time, I use this simple plug-in LED night light.

It gives a lovely comforting glow.

The spectrum is very weird but it’s less than one melanopic lux.

So we can all get a good night’s sleep.


To wrap up mental health week with a smile

(and I KNOW we’re supposed to say ‘lamp’…) 

  1. How many electricians does it take to change a lightbulb? None. The light bulb has to want to change.
  2. How many computer scientists does it take to change a lightbulb? None. That is a hardware issue.
  3. How many wizards does it take to change a lightbulb? Depends on what you want to change it into.
  4. How many mystery writers does it take to change a lightbulb? Two. One to screw it almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.
  5. How many daylighting consultants does it take to change a light bulb? None—the sun will be back up in exactly 10 hours.

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