Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2008;34(4):297-306    pdf

https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.1268 | Published online: 22 Sep 2008, Issue date: Aug 2008

Blue-enriched white light in the workplace improves self-reported alertness, performance and sleep quality

by Viola AU, James LM, Schlangen LJM, Dijk D-J

Objectives Specifications and standards for lighting installations in occupational settings are based on the spectral sensitivity of the classical visual system and do not take into account the recently discovered melanopsin-based, blue-light-sensitive photoreceptive system. The authors investigated the effects of exposure to blue-enriched white light during daytime workhours in an office setting.

Methods The experiment was conducted on 104 white-collar workers on two office floors. After baseline assessments under existing lighting conditions, every participant was exposed to two new lighting conditions, each lasting 4 weeks. One consisted of blue-enriched white light (17 000 K) and the other of white light (4000 K). The order was balanced between the floors. Questionnaire and rating scales were used to assess alertness, mood, sleep quality, performance, mental effort, headache and eye strain, and mood throughout the 8-week intervention.

Results Altogether 94 participants [mean age 36.4 (SD 10.2) years] were included in the analysis. Compared with white light (4000 K), blue-enriched white light (17 000 K) improved the subjective measures of alertness (P<0.0001), positive mood (P=0.0001), performance (P<0.0001), evening fatigue (P=0.0001), irritability (P=0.004), concentration (P<0.0001), and eye discomfort (P=0.002). Daytime sleepiness was reduced (P=0.0001), and the quality of subjective nocturnal sleep (P=0.016) was improved under blue-enriched white light. When the participants’ expectation about the effect of the light treatments was entered into the analysis as a covariate, significant effects persisted for performance, alertness, evening fatigue, irritability, difficulty focusing, concentrating, and blurred vision.

Conclusions Exposure to blue-enriched white light during daytime workhours improves subjective alertness, performance, and evening fatigue.

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