Hide table of contents

What Questions should I look into regarding how lighting effects productivity and health? 


I've been thinking about lighting a lot recently, as we have to decide what types of lighting to use in EA coworking spaces. We've been working with Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting , a well-respected interior lighting firm, and have learnt a fair bit whilst doing so. Some of the stuff I've learnt seems like it'd be pretty useful for the EA and rationalist communities, who seem to have focussed a great deal on the effect of brightness on SAD specifically. 

As a result, I'm thinking about writing (or commissioning someone to write) a pretty comprehensive but not-too-deep review of all the relevant aspects of lighting which people might need to know about when deciding how to light a home office or a large coworking space. This will include links to, and incorporation of, all the other EA forum and less wrong posts about these topics. If there's something missing from my list, I'd love to know. 


Here's my list so far: 


  • How light effects the circadian cycle, and the latest findings regarding ~490nm wavelength light receptors
  • Short wave (<480nm) blue light and how it causes retinal damage


  • How is brightness measured and which units of measure make sense to use when thinking about productivity/health effects? 
  • How does brightness effect psychology and productivity (including SAD)?
  • Can an office be too bright? How bright is too bright? 


  • How people have been thinking incorrectly about circadian lighting - its not about colour temp, its about 490nm 
  • Is there any scientific/peer-reviewed evidence for Color temperature's effect on affect?


  • How light effects the way we see color, and what you should do with finish decisions if you're planning on having tuneable lighting?


Other things:

  • How does light effect productivity vs affect vs physical health in general? 
  • What Is flicker rate, and does it matter? 
  • Are there any manufacturers/types of lights we should use given the above^? 
  • Can you optimise for brightness and CRI and circadian-cycle-supporting and temperature at the same time, or are there tradeoffs? 




New Answer
New Comment

3 Answers sorted by

Looks like a very useful project in an often overlooked area within the EA community!

I haven't looked into the research at all, but some things that seem relevant and quantifiable:

  • Effects of gender, age, and Big 5 traits on the impact lighting has on health / mood / productivity
  • Unconventional lighting colors? What effect does green or purple lighting have?
  • Does lighting differentially affect different types of work or different cognitive tasks (e.g. creative open-ended thinking vs. repetitive monotonous work vs. calculations vs. memory)?

Thanks, these are great, I'll add them to the list

Some answers to your questions might be found in this podcast on "Using Light (Sunlight, Blue Light & Red Light) to Optimize Health", maybe also this one on "Timing Light, Food, & Exercise for Better Sleep, Energy & Mood".

(They're both timestamped.)

More from Kaleem
Curated and popular this week
Relevant opportunities