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Finding Light in Winter Darkness

Mood and cognition benefit when circadian rhythms are in sync with the solar day.

It’s that time of year when darkness closes in on waking hours. Perhaps you find yourself rising before sunrise, working the entire day under artificial light, and leaving your critical workplace or home office after the sun has already set. Then the winter solstice ushers in the shortest day and longest night of the year. For many in the continental U.S., that provides only 9 to 10 hours of daylight. For cities further north such as Fairbanks, Alaska, that’s a mere 3 hours and 41 minutes. Have you noticed how these daylight shifts affect your mood?

Humans have an internal body clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle known as the circadian rhythm. Evidence suggests that mood, sense of well-being, productivity and cognitive function all benefit when this circadian rhythm remains synchronized with the solar day.  However, with shorter days and a vast majority of time spent indoors, people typically experience too little light during the day and too much at night. Not enough light from the blue end of the spectrum during the day and too much of it at night throws off our circadian rhythm.

While there is little we can do about the length of daylight, we can do something about the quality of artificial light and how that either supports or disturbs an ideal circadian rhythm. As the LED lighting pioneer, Cree Lighting is committed to bringing the benefits of human-centric lighting to everyone. Most recently, we have leveraged our expertise in award-winning circadian lighting when developing the best-in-class Connected Max Smart LED bulbs. This innovative line-up allows users to customize and automate their home lighting, including flawless setup using Bluetooth for quick pairing and hub-free Wi-Fi control.

Let’s take a look at three examples on how human-centric lighting is helping to create better days and nights:Follow The Sun

  • The tunable white plus color-changing Connected Max bulbs feature a human-centric “Follow the Sun” setting that automatically adjusts the color and intensity of the LED bulbs throughout the day to mimic the natural cadence of sunlight from dawn to dusk. You experience a soft, warm light as the sun rises and smoothly transitions to midday with cooler, brighter light that enhances productivity before transitioning back to a warm, cozy light as the sun sets. Bringing the feeling of being outdoors inside may help improve your mood, well-being, and productivity throughout the day, all from the simple control of the intuitive Cree Lighting app.
  • Knowing how circadian rhythm regulates our sleep-wake cycle, it’s not surprising that using the Connected Max bulbs can help you better start and end your day. Toss the alarm clock thanks to the Cree Lighting app “Light to Sleep/Wake” routine. The connected Max bulb will turn on at any designated time and slowly intensify, waking you to start the day. When your day is done, the bulb slowly fades to off preparing your body ready for rest.
  • The Cadiant™ Dynamic Lighting Experience provides a valuable sensory connection to the outdoors in spaces where access to natural lighting through windows is impractical or impossible. Using advanced lighting controls and color technology, separate sun and sky panels create the east-to-west arc of the sun and mimic the sun’s natural dawn-to-dusk movement of the day. Whether in an office, healthcare, or educational setting, you feel the effects of natural sunlight despite being indoors.

With each passing day after December 21, we gain more daylight, minute by minute and hour by hour. And with each passing year, innovations like Cree Lighting’s Connected Max Smart LED bulb and the Cadiant™ Dynamic Lighting Experience are becoming more common in the spaces we spend our time.