Study Suggests Brighter Interior Lighting Could Make Employees Smarter

Spending too many hours in workplaces with dim lighting may have adverse effects on brain structure, and impair an employee’s ability to remember and learn. That’s the conclusion from a recent research study by neuroscientists at Michigan State University.

The subjects of the study were Nile grass rats, chosen because they have sleep habits similar to humans. The rodents were divided into two groups and exposed to different levels of light. The rodents who received dim light showed a 30% decline in functioning in their hippocampus, a part of the brain that helps to regulate learning and memory, as well as a decrease in spatial skills. By contrast, the rats exposed to bright lights showed a significant improvement in both areas.

Perhaps even more interesting, the effects appeared to be substantially reversible. After a break of one month, the first group of rats appeared to make a full recovery in terms of both brain capacity and performance when they were subsequently exposed to brighter lights.

The researchers have suggested at least one theory to explain these events. In part, it may be due to dim light suppressing a certain peptide called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps neurons to communicate.

In the short term, the immediate applications of the study may be especially important for elderly populations and those with certain eye disorders. In the long run, it could have much broader implications. The levels of light used in the study resembled typical interior lighting, and the average American spends about 90% of their time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Brighter lighting could significantly improve the well being and performance of many workers.

Energy efficient lighting solutions may be good for your employee’s productivity and safety, in addition to reducing costs and reducing your company’s environmental footprints. Contact us to start discussing a custom lighting plan to meet your needs.