The development of a “better” fluorescent light tube helped eliminate some of the artificial light problems and at the same time helped the lack of sunlight situation. Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs also replaced the incandescent bulbs.
When a wider range of phosphors is added to the bulbs, the resulting light simulates the full spectrum of sunlight. Now humans and animals can get a form of indoor sunlight to help their bodies get the minimum light energy necessary for good health.
Early morning exposure to sunlight or full spectrum light regulates the body clock by stopping the nightly production of melatonin and starting the daylight production of serotonin.
About 6 hours of full spectrum light during the day equals the minimum ½ hour requirement of outdoor sunlight (refer to Sunlight educational brief).
The increased pulse rate (25000 hertz) of the electronic ballasts (the power supply in the light fixture) eliminates the flicker and significantly reduces the negative radiation that occurs in the older magnetic ballasts. When the ability to create a full spectrum version of the new LED light bulb occurs, then using fluorescent technology to create full spectrum can changed –but it is not here yet!
Full spectrum lights come in lamp form, as screw-in bulbs (CFL) compact fluorescent lights that will fit with most regular fixtures, and most standard sizes of fluorescent tubes fixtures.
What is the Technical Description of Full Spectrum?
The light that some scientists consider a super nutrient is full spectrum light, which normally comes from the sun or is simulated from specially designed full spectrum or high spectrum fluorescent tubes and bulbs.
Full Spectrum Light can only be produced using fluorescent technology at the present time!
The full spectrum light rating is designated by two factors:
- Color Rendering Index (CRI), which designates the proportions of each color contained within the light.
- Kelvin Heat Rating (degrees Kelvin).
Natural outdoor light has a CRI of 100 and a Kelvin rating of 7500 degrees Kelvin. Although there are no legal guidelines, 5000 degrees Kelvin (and above) and 90 CRI (and above) is considered full-spectrum. In comparison, standard cool white fluorescent has a CRI of 68 while warm white fluorescent is 56 CRI. The usual Kelvin rating is the 3000- 4500 degree range. Standard incandescent bulbs have a 40 CRI.
Why Use Full Spectrum Lighting?
- Under natural light or full spectrum light, that duplicates natural light, there is better visual acuity and increased production and accuracy. Students and office workers experience far less fatigue and chance of error. Absenteeism due to illness is decreased and people generally have more energy. When Data Control of Kansas City redesigned their facility using full spectrum light they experienced a savings of $235,000 annually from reduced computer errors by the employees who were entering the data.
- Full Spectrum Lighting improves your indoor environment – you’ll be amazed at the difference! It makes reading easy – colors are more accurate, fabric and paint differences are more clearly seen.
- These lights reduce the glare that causes eyestrain, a great improvement for people with vision difficulties. When used around computers and television, the light helps to reverse the cathode soft x- ray radiation effects that result in drowsiness. They save 80% on energy costs and last 10 times as long (10,000 to 33,000 hours) as incandescent lights.
- Full spectrum lights are an absolute must for students and anyone using a computer – they are life enhancing for indoor pets and your plants will benefit significantly! This type of lighting is essential for maintaining your health and eyesight.
- Eyestrain is a major health concern of people in America. Eyestrain can begin in less than twenty minutes under incandescent, halogen and fluorescent light. The more closely we can approximate daylight, the less fatigue and irritation we experience. This is especially true for reading and computer work as well as general working conditions.
- Full spectrum lighting helps reduce eyestrain even over hours of exposure. It eliminates the stressful effects that the yellowish incandescent, fluorescent and halogen light has on the body’s nerve endings. This results in reduced fatigue, superior concentration and an overall calmer feeling. Just compare reading under your standard lighting and under full spectrum light and you will immediately notice how little glare there is and how crisp and clear the letters are.
- Full spectrum lights are extremely energy efficient, produce very little heat and will fit in most household and office fixtures. They are also ideal for fixtures that have low wattage or power safety requirements.
- Full spectrum light closely simulates sunlight and therefore can be used to improve conditions that result from a lack of sunlight, especially during the darker winter months. Winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) are examples of this.
S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
A lack of light in winter or from working indoors can cause decreased immune functioning and an increase in certain types of depressive illnesses, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the subclinical variety, “Winter Blues”. The farther north you go, the more common occurrences are of both SAD and “Winter Blues”. The symptoms of SAD include depressed mood, difficulties in concentration, the need for increased amounts of sleep, and cravings for carbohydrates. It is estimated By Dr. Lenora Rosen that 6% of the United States population experiences SAD, and 14% experience “Winter Blues”.
One method for treating SAD is with a Full Spectrum Lights. These lights are used on a daily basis for twenty minutes for the first three weeks and thereafter as needed. This is the amount of time it takes to reset the circadian rhythm of the body and help restore healthy biological function.
Light travels through the eye on the optic nerve. The signal is received by the hypothalamus and the pineal glands which then, in concert with the pituitary gland, works to produce serotonin, melatonin and all the other brain chemistry. These help a person to wake up in the morning, go to sleep at night and have a good time in-between (we do not offer guarantees on that!). But some people enjoy the benefits so much that they use their lights throughout the day at home or at work.
There are two distinct schools of thought about treating SAD with light. One is to use full spectrum light (2500-3500 lux intensity) with the Color Rendition Index (CRI) being as close as possible to natural outdoor light (90-100). This means the proportions of the different spectrums of color are similar to those of the sun, including the ultra-violet spectrum. Many colors are completely out of balance in traditional lighting (they are usually heavy in the yellow -orange spectrum) which contributes to SAD symptoms.
Full spectrum lights come in lamp form, as screw-in bulbs (CFL) compact fluorescent lights that will fit with most regular fixtures, and most standard sizes of fluorescent tubes fixtures. There are also light boxes with higher brightness.
The other school of thought is that intensity (10,000 lux) is the missing ingredient in traditional lighting. Unfortunately it is not yet possible to get a high intensity (10,000 lux) and high CRI (90 or above) in the same fluorescent tube. To produce high intensity requires reducing the ultra-violet spectrum. Users can choose one or the other format.