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Whether you step out into the bright daylight or turn on an indoor light switch, there is more to light than meets the eye. Lighting designer Karolina M. Zielinska-Dabkowska explains how light affects the human body – and why artificial light has become a concern to both health and environmental experts. She calls for increased public awareness and improved lighting technology to mitigate the negative consequences of today’s 24-hour lifestyle. To familiarize yourself with this rapidly evolving area of research, getAbstract recommends her article as a good starting point.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why artificial lighting harms human health,
  • Why artificial outdoor lighting negatively impacts the environment, and
  • How lighting researchers and policy makers can help mitigate the harmful effects of artificial lighting. 
 

About the Author

Karolina M. Zielinska-Dabkowska is a lighting designer and a faculty member of Gdansk University of Technology in Poland.

 

Summary

Artificial lighting has negative effects on human health.

Humans evolved to sleep at night and be active during the day. Daylight, especially the blue portion of the visible light spectrum exhibiting the shortest wavelengths and highest energy, plays a decisive role in regulating circadian rhythms. Photosensitive cells in the human eye signal to the brain what kind of neurotransmitters and hormones it should favor as the day unfolds. Bright sunlight in the morning stimulates the production of activity-promoting serotonin, dopamine and cortisol. In the evening, as natural blue light vanishes, the body starts to produce sleep-inducing melatonin. Artificial light, however, prolongs human exposure to blue light into the evening hours, which can promote sleep disturbances by delaying the production of melatonin. Besides making it difficult to fall asleep, a disrupted circadian rhythm can also change people’s eating habits, metabolism, heart rate, mood and hormone production.   


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