Full Spectrum Lighting
Larry Weber, Naturallighting.com Copyright© 2002-2004
All life on our planet has adapted to and is nourished by light from the sun and sky, a critical balance of visible color and invisible ultraviolet wavelengths. Over the ages, virtually every living thing developed with the help of Nature's Full Spectrum. Today most people don't get enough sunlight because they spend so much time indoors, and most lack the understanding of lighting and that there is significant difference is type, and quality of lighting available. Most lighting in homes, schools, offices, factories, stores, is so bad that many health disorders can be traced to the lack of natural lighting. Natural sunlight and various forms of light therapy can help reestablish the body's natural rhythm (circadian rhythm - the body's inner clock) which controls timing of sleep, hormone production, body temperature, and other biological functions. Disturbances in this rhythm can lead to health problems such as depression (SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder) and sleep disorders. Light therapy and the use of natural full spectrum lighting are becoming an integral treatment for many related health conditions.
How Light Therapy Works - As light enters the eyes, millions of light and color sensitive cells called photoreceptors convert the light into electrical impulses. These impulses travel along the optic nerve to the brain where they tripper the hypothalamus gland to send chemical messengers called neurotransmitters to regulate the automatic functions of body. The hypothalamus is part of the endocrine system whose secretions govern most bodily functions - blood pressure, body temperature, breathing, digestion, sexual function, moods, immune system, aging process, and circadian rhythm. Full spectrum lighting (containing all wavelengths) sparks the delicate impulses that regulate these functions and maintain health.
The Importance of Natural Sunlight - According to numerous studies, poor light poses a serious threat to health. Many firmly believe that the best light for maintaining health must contain the full wavelength spectrum found in natural sunlight. Most artificial (incandescent and standard fluorescent) lighting lacks the complete balanced spectrum of sunlight. The lack of the full spectrum interferes with the body's optimal absorption of nutrients, a condition known as "malillumination". Windows, windshields, eyeglasses, smog, and suntan lotions all filter out parts of the light spectrum and contribute to the problem. Most offices, even those with uncovered windows and the lights on, have a light level of only 500 lux (the international unit illumination) as compared to outdoor light, which has about 50,000 lux, or about 100 times more. Light levels for night shift workers are usually about 50 lux. We spend about 90% of our lives indoors, under inadequate lighting conditions, which can cause or worsen a range of health problems, including depression, heart disease, hypertension, depression, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, migraines, and carbohydrate cravings, associated with metabolic imbalances. A ten-year epidemiological study conducted at johns Hopkins University Medical School in Baltimore, Maryland, showed that exposure to full spectrum light (including the ultraviolet frequency) is positively) related to the prevention of breast, colon, and rectal cancers. In Russia, a full spectrum lighting system was installed in factories where colds and sore throats had become commonplace among workers. This lowered the bacterial contamination of the air by 40 to 70 percent. Workers who did not receive the full spectrum light were absent twice as many days as those who did. Recent tests in classrooms, two using standard fluorescent lighting and two using full spectrum lights, indicated conclusively that students exposed to the full spectrum lighting had a marked diminishment of hyperactivity, less absenteeism, and higher academic achievement.
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder): Full spectrum light and bright light are effective treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The symptoms of SAD are depression, excess sleeping and eating, withdrawn feeling, lowered sex drive, etc. Melatonin levels are found to be very high in-patients with SAD. Daily exposure to sunlight or full spectrum light has been known to eliminate SAD symptoms.
UV or Not to UV: That is the question: The term "ultraviolet" causes most people to think of harmful rays, cancer, cataracts, aging, and wrinkles. From sunglasses to suntan lotion, most of the UV is blocked or filtered out. Blocking all of the UV rays may severely weaken the body's defenses. There are strong indications that UV light through the eyes stimulates the immune system. Moderation is the key. There is no question that large amounts of UV are harmful, however, in trace amounts, it is very beneficial. Sunlight contains large amounts of UV in various wavelengths. Each wavelength is responsible for various things, such as tanning response in humans, activate synthesis of Vitamin D, and absorption of calcium and other minerals. Sun therapy was very popular in Europe at the turn of the century, and until the late 1930's. It was known as heliotherapy, named after the Greek God of the sun - Helios. By mid 1930's, sunbathing and UV therapy was most effective treatments for many infectious diseases such as: lupus, eczema, acne, herpes, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, cystics, anemia, colitis, kidney problems, etc. Then in 1938, penicillin was discovered, and world turned to pharmaceuticals, and drugs became big business. Sun therapy was then regarded as medical quackery. There is another side to the healing with light - and most do not know the tremendous health benefits from UV. UV light activates the synthesis of Vitamin D, which is a prerequisite for absorption of calcium and other minerals. UV light can lower blood pressure; can increase efficiency of the heart, can improve EKG readings and blood profiles; can reduce cholesterol; can increase the level of sex hormones (Vita-Lite has a balanced UV, and is used extensively for enhancing the mating and reproduction of indoor pet and animals); UV activates an important skin hormone - solitrol (works with Melatonin to generate changes in mood, circadian rhythms, and seasonal reproduction.).
There hundreds of medical studies completed on the health benefits of ultraviolet light, however, prevailing medical establishments continue to maintain that UV is dangerous to our health. It is agreed that too much UV is harmful, however, a basic amount is needed to support life and the immune system, just like any other vital nutrient. Today we spend most of our time indoors, and under artificial lighting. Most indoors lighting (homes, offices, and factories) has inadequate brightness and lacks the spectral components of sunlight. Additionally, most light bulbs give off a gross distortion of the visible light spectrum, emitting strong peaks of light energy in the yellow, red and infrared portions of the spectrum. That is why most lighting in homes and offices, etc. looks yellowish and dingy.
Natural Full Spectrum Fluorescent lights have the proven capability to: Blend with natural light from windows and skylights; Reveal detail and colors accurately. Improve seeability; Help improve the performance and productivity of people; Excellent for Pet and Plant lighting. Simulation of natural light means that environments lit with natural full spectrum fluorescent light bulbs can blend perfectly with the natural light from windows and skylights. The eye does not have to adapt to a new spectrum, color temperature or color rendition when one goes from outdoors or a naturally lighted environment to an indoor environment lighted with Vita-Lite. Interior colors are true and details are rendered accurately. Natural light energizes the environment for people. They generally feel better, are more alert, see better and perform better. In a survey conducted to determine the impact of full spectrum lighting in the workplace it was found that: People felt more relaxed and less fatigued with full spectrum lighting than Cool White, with higher eye comfort; The subjects perceived full spectrum lighting as significantly more pleasant, natural, bright and stimulating; Additionally, they rated their seeing tasks as more distinct under full spectrum lighting, and their work tasks as easier and more satisfying.
Not all "Full Spectrum" light bulbs are true Full Spectrum - noon daylight bulbs. Light bulbs are rated by 1) Lumen Output; CRI (Color Rendering Index); and Color Temperature (Kelvin Degrees). These ratings are required to determine the type of light the bulb is emitting. Natural light has a unique spectrum, which includes a balance of UV and visible color regions. This spectrum balance of UV and Visible light is necessary for lamps to be called "Full Spectrum". Therefore, if the spectrum from light bulbs closely matches this balanced spectrum of natural noon-day light, such bulbs can accurately and legitimately be described as Full Spectrum. Otherwise, the output of bulbs that does not meet this definition cannot and should not be described as Full Spectrum. Most so-called "Full Spectrum" incandescent bulbs and neodymium) are not true "Full Spectrum" and do not match high quality full spectrum fluorescent light bulbs.
Spectral output analysis clearly shows that these types of bulbs do not meet Full Spectrum requirements. These type bulbs have a rare earth element (neodymium) in the glass that reduces the amount of yellow energy from an incandescent filament, thus producing a unique color-rendering lamp. Several of the so-called "Full Spectrum" incandescent manufacturers do not list ratings for Color Temperature, CRI, Lumens, on their "Full Spectrum" incandescent bulbs. Most incandescent and other "Full Spectrum" bulbs have various color tones (pink, purple, etc.). Our products are the highest quality true full spectrum products available. All our products are rated with a Color Temp. (K), (CRI), and Lumen Output varies, depending on bulb. There is no guessing to the Lumen Level, CRI, and Color Temperature (K). Furthermore, the spectral analysis closely matches noonday sunlight and a balanced UV, which incandescent bulbs do not have. Naturallighting.com specializes in natural full spectrum lighting. Other products include our exclusive Ergonomic Desk Lamps, Ultra Compact SunPro and Vita-Lite Spiral Bulbs, Ultra-Lite, Powr-Tek, Natural Light, etc.
Naturallighting.com was chosen as "the best retail site" for full spectrum lighting by Glen Hauge - The Master Handy Man, Full-Spectrum bulbs that emulate sunlight are worth the extra cost (Detroit News, De).