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  • Writer's pictureJosh Veblen

Improved lighting controls for hospitals.

Updated: Jan 7

Just what the doctor ordered

Since most hospitals have limited access to natural daylight, artificial lighting plays a crucial role in day-to-day operations. Although LED lighting is initially perceived as a maintenance and cost savings initiative (LED lighting can reduce lighting energy costs by up to 70%), upgrading to human-centric LED lighting and controls produces measurable improvements in terms of patient experience and recovery times, as well as staff performance and job satisfaction. Effective lighting also helps reduce accidents and errors and improves security for both patients and staff.

The major advantages that upgraded lighting systems provide for healthcare facilities include:

Improved patient recovery times

Human-centric lighting offers many benefits for healthcare facilities—especially hospitals, long-term care, and assisted living facilities where patients spend long periods of time indoors.

While doctors, nurses, and staff require high-quality, bright light for accurate diagnosis and treatment, patients fare better with lighting that supports their circadian rhythm and facilitates healthy sleep. Impaired sleep has long been a consequence of time spent in hospitals.

Patients struggle with physical discomfort, noise, interruptions, and inappropriate light exposure. Upgrading lighting technology can improve patient sleep quality, reduce depression, and decrease length of stay.​​​

Multiple research studies have found abundant evidence connecting upgraded LED lighting with improved patient healing. Daytime exposure to a few hours of bright‐light therapy is proven to have beneficial effects on patient recovery, length of stay, delirium, depression, anxiety, and use of pain medication.

  • For example, a study conducted in 2005 found that patients exposed to higher-intensity light experienced less perceived stress, marginally less pain, took 22% less analgesic medication per hour, and had 21% lower pain medication costs.

  • Other patient benefits may be less obvious. For example, when McLaren Health Care System in Michigan upgraded 11 of its primary hospitals with smart LED lighting systems, they found that, in addition to cost savings and improved performance, they could reduce noise levels in the evening. Dimming the lights in patient and visitor areas at specified times, signaled that it was time to quiet down and allow patients to rest.

  • Another study found that tunable LED lighting systems in long-term care facilities reduced the rate of falls by 43% compared to standard lighting.

Improved staff performance

The work environment in hospitals is inherently stressful. Caregivers suffer the consequences of long hours and shift work. At the same time, they are required to perform a range of complex tasks—charting, filling prescriptions, administering medication, and performing other patient-related .activities.

Irregular day/night light cycles, common in healthcare facilities, disrupt circadian rhythms, mood, productivity, and sleep.

Sleep deprivation, fatigue, or drowsiness contributes to:

  • Lack of concentration

  • Irritability

  • Poor or impaired judgment

  • Impaired reaction times

For staff, effective lighting can ease the adjustment to night-shift work and improve performance. ​ Studies have shown that dimly lit night-shift conditions make caregiving and medical decision-making more difficult. Staff working rotating shifts—particularly those working night shifts—are likely to experience sleepiness, decreased productivity, and impaired safety while on the job. Ongoing studies are finding that night-shift staff may be more alert if they are working under light shifted towards red, rather than blue or white light.

Improved patient and staff well-being

Research studies have shown that fluorescent lighting can cause headaches and migraines, increase anxiety, decrease concentration, and instill an overall sense of discomfort after long-term exposure.

By mimicking the natural coloring of the sunrise/sunset light cycle LED systems can enhance the healing process, increase wakefulness throughout the day and promote better sleep at night.


Improved sanitation

  • Many hospitals and clinics are using UV lighting technology to support sanitation and disinfection protocols.

  • UV light has shown significant reductions in common pathogens associated with hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), such as MRSA and Staphylococcus aureus.

Optimal visibility

  • LED systems distribute colors evenly, resulting in more vivid color renderings for optimal visibility.

  • With fully directional down-lighting, LEDs provide better illumination where doctors and nurses need it.

Improved safety

  • Unlike halogen and incandescent bulbs, LEDs do not generate heat—thereby avoiding the risk of combustion

  • Since LEDs do not have filaments or emit radio frequencies, they are sate to use around MRIs and CT scans

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