Shining a Softer Light on Recovery
Tunable hospital lighting Philips Lighting
Harsh hospital lighting serves a purpose: To work effectively, healthcare professionals need around 1,000 watts. But such relentless brightness can have deleterious effects on patients. A 2015 study from the National Institutes of Health cited overexposure to light as a key factor in sleep deprivation, which inhibits the healing process.
“Typically, you see these sterile, two-by-four fluorescents that are just uncomfortable to look up at,” says Patricia Rizzo, senior lighting applications designer for Philips Lighting. Having pioneered customizable lighting systems for homes, Philips realized its technology could improve the patient experience in hospitals.
Over the past year and a half, the company has rolled out a pilot project with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, installing tunable lighting systems in four patient rooms. The lights brighten and dim along with the natural light cycle outside, and both hospital staff and the patients themselves can adjust the lights by remote to whatever setting they’d like. (Young patients often choose to make colors dance on the white walls.) Patients have reported lower levels of stress and longer stretches of consecutive sleep, and Rizzo says Philips plans to expand the pilot through more of the University of Minnesota health system.