Photo: Carsten Dam-Hansen

Blue light beneficial to health and mood

Monday 22 Feb 16

The project in brief

The prize-winning project was entitled ’Etablering af sundt lys i Københavns Kommunes testlejlighed på ældre- og sundhedsområdet Living Lab, Strandvejen, Østerbro’. (Establishing healthy lighting in the City of Copenhagen’s test apartment in the field of elderly care and health, Living Lab, Strandvejen, Østerbro’.

Over and above the artificial light, the project involved testing windows that transmit UVB-light, i.e. the rays that support the body’s production of vitamin D and help reduce the incidence of bacteria and viruses among the residents. Carlo Volf, the architect and designer, was responsible for this work. 

As the Year of Light drew to a close, two students won a prize for their work on ‘healthy light’ at a nursing home. The project may well end up as a spin-out from DTU.

Daylight determines our circadian rhythm, ensuring that our bodies function as they should and that we have enough energy to carry out our daily chores. So if we are suddenly obliged to spend all day in a cramped flat with poor natural light and dim lighting at the red end of the spectrum, our health is likely to suffer. More blue light is the answer to this problem, but it is not exactly pleasant to spend protracted periods bathed in light from blue sources. Two students solved the problem, and won a prize for it.

The effect of the lack of daylight is clearly seen in nursing homes in particular, where it disrupts the circadian rhythm of the residents, resulting in their getting up in the middle of the night, for example, when there is a high risk of them falling over, and leaving them some way short of their best during the day. They may also suffer from problems with their short-term memory, slow reaction speeds and general grumpiness.

Photo: Colourbox

So what can be done to improve the lighting conditions in nursing homes without infringing on the residents’ boundaries and forcing them to accept lamps in their rooms that provide a type of lighting that no-one likes? This was the question that Jakob Hildebrandt and Elisabeth Opøien—two students on the Engineering Management study programme—decided to examine in connection with their MSc thesis, which they wrote under the supervision of Professors Jes Broeng and Paul Michael Petersen from DTU Fotonik.

And they made such progress with their ideas about bringing more ‘healthy’ light into nursing homes that Jakob Hildebrandt has now been awarded funding to commercialize the solution. Moreover, at the end of 2015, the project received an extra pat on the back in the form of an innovation prize—along with DKK 10,000—from the Danish LED Network in connection with the conclusion of the Year of Light. 

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