Circadian Rhythm, Sleep and Smart Home Technology

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand the importance of a good night’s sleep. Who hasn’t stared at the clock at 3am in despair, already anticipating tomorrow’s inevitable grogginess and irritation?

According to the NHS, regular poor sleep presents serious health risks, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and shortened life expectancy. It’s clear that we need to take sleep seriously.

So how can a Smart Home help you to get a good night’s sleep? In a smart home, the advanced control that you have over all the systems in your house, means that you can use lighting to improve your health and wellbeing by working with your circadian rhythms.

The concept of circadian lighting follows that of the human circadian rhythm, a 24-hour internal clock. The area of the brain called the hypothalamus controls each person’s circadian rhythm by receiving signals from the eyes that report when it’s daytime and night-time. The hypothalamus, in turn, controls the amount of melatonin released to correlate sleepiness with darkness and alertness with lightness.

Research has indicated that light affects both our visual and non-visual systems and that electric lighting can impact circadian rhythm. Circadian lighting is the concept that electric lighting can be used to support human health by minimizing the effect of electric light on the human circadian rhythm.  Scientists have discovered that long-term exposure to certain wavelengths of blue light, at a specific intensity, can have a negative impact on melatonin production.

At present, there are three lighting design approaches, to implementing a circadian lighting system: Intensity tuning, Colour tuning, and Stimulus tuning.

Intensity or brightness tuning is the most familiar and cost-effective solution to circadian lighting.  Fixtures maintain a fixed correlated colour temperature (CCT), while the intensity of the fixture is adjusted, through a controlled dimming system, to correlate with time of day.  Light fixtures are set to a lower intensity in the early morning, transitioning to a higher intensity as the day progresses, and finally reducing to a lower intensity in the evening.

Colour tuning involves changing the light intensity and CCT to mimic the daytime/night-time cycle. We experience cooler colour temperatures, ranging from 4000K up to about 10,000K, when the sun is highest in the sky and people are typically most alert during the day.

Therefore, cooler CCTs are used in spaces and during times when it’s appropriate to promote alertness and attention. Warmer colour temperatures, ranging from < 2700K to 3500K, represent daylight hours when the sun is rising and setting, when people are falling asleep or waking up.  Circadian lighting systems are set to adjust based on the CCT we typically observe, at any given time of the day.

Stimulus tuning is lighting technology that replaces the “bad blue” with “good blue” light wavelengths.  This circadian lighting approach more closely mimics the daylight spectrum.  Stimulus tuning light fixtures can be programmed to reduce blue light wavelengths during the evening/night-time hours to limit melatonin suppression, without changing the CCT.  Like colour tuning, this lighting approach is most effective when paired with intensity tuning.

All this coupled with the aesthetic improvements a lighting system will afford – reduced wall acne, keypads that can control multiple circuits, keypads with built in thermostats, reducing wall acne and let’s not forget the significant energy savings.

You may be wondering why you wouldn’t want a Smart Homes System in your refurb or restoration.

If you would like to know more about any aspect of Smart Home Automation, have a look at our website: www, contact us now on 01903 750740 or drop us a line