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    Seven important benefits of healthcare lighting

    Part 3 of a 3-part series on lighting for health and well-being


    Lighting in healthcare environments can do much more than provide basic visibility. Some of the benefits of connected LED lighting go beyond illumination altogether, offering support for important organizational ambitions, from higher patient throughput to maximizing energy efficiency. Here are seven important benefits that lighting can offer to patients, visitors, and staff in any healthcare facility.

    Enhancing patient and staff safety


    Supporting patient and staff safety is a must, and lighting can help in several ways. Creating a light plan and deploying lighting solutions that provide bright, glare-free, and uniform lighting everywhere can all but eliminate visual confusion. This will reduce the possibility of accidents and errors, as will deploying anti-stumble lights to prevent falls at night. A study published in The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (JAMDA) in 2022 found that falls were reduced by 43% when standard lighting was replaced by higher intensity LED light with more blue wavelengths. Responsive control systems that immediately turn on or brighten lights when a patient or staff member enters a darkened space also support safety, while maximizing energy efficiency.


    Good quality lighting helps the elderly, as aging leads to decreased color vision, difficulty seeing at low light levels, trouble with glare, and other issues. According to the National Institutes of Health, a 60-year-old needs three times more light than a 20-year-old.


    Patient and staff safety means doing everything possible can to keep spaces clean and disinfected. LED-based UV-C lighting has been proven to safely inactivate 99.99% of viruses and bacteria in indoor spaces in a matter of minutes, while consuming far less energy than other disinfection protocols, like increased ventilation.

    Improving patient and staff experience


    Improved patient experience is about creating calm and relaxing environments, reducing stress, and personalizing spaces to suit patients’ moods and support staff tasks by balancing between functional and home-like atmospheres. Lighting can play a crucial role in helping to create such a calming and familiar atmosphere for patients and relatives.​ In potentially stressful situations, such as medical examinations, the right lighting can help to get better examination results in the end.


    Lighting can play an equally crucial role for staff. Improving comfort through better-lit environments that include daylight has a proven positive effect on employee performance, concentration, and relaxation.​Studies have shown that the right lighting can increase mental function and support  memory improvement by up to 25%, increase productivity by up to 23%, and increase call processing by up to 12%. Bright light has been demonstrated to improve physical fitness, reduce tiredness and sleepiness, and foster higher performance efficiency.

    Maintaining healthy circadian rhythms


    In a 24/7 working environment, especially when access to daylight isn’t available, it’s important for staff members to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Light affects human well-being in two ways:​ visually, via the well-known photoreceptors, the rods and cones, in the retina of the eye; and non-visually, via melanopsin, the eye’s recently discovered third photoreceptor. Melanopsin has a direct and significant impact on the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the brain’s central biological clock.​


    Patients near windows recover faster than patients near the door , as a Korean study from 2018 concluded. Patients exposed to sunlight experience less stress and pain in general and take less analgesic medication per hour. When sunlight isn’t available, dynamic lighting that mimics the spectrum of natural light creates optimal conditions for patients.


    Human-centric or circadian lighting implementations use software controls and dynamic, tunable LED luminaires for scene setting that supports the proper functioning of the human circadian rhythm. Such solutions support concentration, performance, and relaxation, and promote a proper sleep-wake cycle, allowing staff members to rest and recuperate properly after a long shift. Circadian lighting in patient rooms helps promote relaxation and stabilize sleep cycles, support quicker healing and better outcomes.


    Exposure to natural light in elder care facilities leads to improved daily activities, improved sleep efficiency, reduced nighttime activity, reduced cognitive deterioration, fewer depressive symptoms, and less aggressive behavior.

    The use of lighting technologies to simulate daily light rhythms that contribute to patient improvement is already a reality. A study carried out at the Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands determined that the proper lighting experiences lead to better sleep quality and greater satisfaction of cardiac patients. Many health centers, including the Bradford Royal Infirmary in the UK, the German Heart Institute in Berlin, and the Philippines Heart Center, have implemented circadian lighting in patient and recovery rooms.

    Helping patients and visitors feel welcome and properly oriented


    In public areas outside the hospital, lighting helps orient hospital users, clearly identifying pedestrians walkways and roadways. The use of color on a façade or illuminating gardens with light can give a hospital a unique identity and make the facility seem less forbidding.

    Similarly, a well-lit lobby can inspire confidence and a feeling of welcome for people when they arrive at a hospital. Light can create cozy environments in waiting rooms. It can also guide people through corridors and ease the circulation of patients, guests, and staff, reducing stress and increasing the feeling of safety.


    Light and color can have a positive effect on people, especially children. The Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona and the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam are examples of two hospitals that have taken this effect seriously, creating vibrant, immersive, and interactive interiors with color-changing LED lighting to promote a feeling of comfort and play.

    Optimizing medical practice areas


    In medical practice areas—consultation rooms, operating rooms, treatment rooms, research labs, and so on—high-quality lighting is a must, and it must be designed to support each practice. Lighting systems for these areas must deliver the proper light level with the proper uniformity and glare index to ensure visual comfort. In surgeries and other areas, accurate color rendering is also important. A system with centralized dashboard control of dynamic LED luminaires guarantees that parameters are set properly for any activity in these spaces, while offering the flexibility to properly illuminate different activities in the same spaces and minimize energy use.


    Diagnostic and therapy rooms often rely on extensive hardware and technology: think chemotherapy facilities, magnetic resonance imaging, cardiovascular Interventions, radiotherapy, and so on. These are generally considered hostile environments for the patient, causing anxiety and intimidation. Dynamic color-changing lighting experiences can mitigate these feelings, creating a more relaxing environment for the patient.

    Supporting staff in administrative areas


    Nurses stations, report rooms, offices and meeting rooms are spaces that require quality functional lighting, with a good treatment of the aforementioned parameters, to contribute to the well-being of professionals and achieve the desired productivity.


    Nurses stations are particularly crucial spaces in a hospital. They serve as the vital hub of the hospital floor, encompassing administrative tasks, patient monitoring, medication preparation, and information exchange among medical staff. They serve as the central point for patients and family members seeking assistance and guidance.


    As nurses stations are frequently located in the center of a building, there’s limited access to natural light. The demanding and stressful nature of working in a medical environment, coupled with diverse, and extended, shift schedules, intensify the challenges faced by healthcare professionals.


    Lighting designed for visual comfort, easy control and automation, and staff efficiency can make nurses stations comfortable and approachable for patients and visitors. Circadian lighting implementations support staff alertness, productivity, and well-being, especially in the absence of natural light.

    Keeping climate action on the agenda


    An expansive view of human health recognizes the important role that a healthy environment plays, both in and out of the hospital. A stressed environment with poor air quality, violent storms, and record-breaking heat will also put stress on hospitals, who must be ready to care for those who face medical issues as a result of climate change.


    Ironically, the healthcare industry is a major large source of global greenhouse gases—almost 5% of global CO2 emissions, according to an article in The New York Times. In fact, hospitals can be nearly three times as energy-intensive as other commercial buildings.

    International platform Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH), which represents the interests of over 60,000 hospitals in 82 countries, recognizes the need for healthcare facilities to consider their responsibilities as commercial buildings. GGHH calls for “civilized built environments that . . .  reduce stress and support health and health and productivity.” LED and connected lighting is an effective starting point.

    About the author

    Elina Dayanova, Signify

    Elina Dayanova, global healthcare practice leader, Signify



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