What is Circadian Lighting and How Does it Work?

Get a better idea of circadian lighting and how it can improve your daily life.

Tuesday, Mar 17th, 2020

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By now, we know that light can affect everything from our mood to our sleep. We can take proactive measures to change this lighting by using special, circadian lighting. But what is it, exactly? And how does it work?

What is circadian rhythm?

Before we discuss circadian rhythm lighting, it’s important to first break down what your circadian rhythm is. Your circadian rhythm is your internal clock that runs on a 24-hour cycle. This clock controls how tired and awake you feel and is most influenced by light, early and late in the day. When it’s dark out, your body triggers your hypothalamus to release melatonin, which can make you feel tired. When it’s light out, your body usually suppresses the release of melatonin so that you’re more awake.

Lighting plays a larger role than you may realize. For example, if you’re exposed to a lot of light before bed, this can disrupt your circadian rhythm and sleep pattern by delaying sleep. It’s also why people may feel more tired or sad in the winter—since the days are shorter and there’s less light, the body is more likely to feel fatigued and mood will be lower.

What is circadian rhythm lighting?

Because lighting plays such a large role in regulating your circadian rhythm, circadian rhythm lighting can influence it for the better. Circadian lighting is the idea of using light to match natural circadian rhythm. In the morning, light will be brighter and stronger, and then throughout the day it will lower in intensity to prepare your body for sleep.

How does circadian rhythm lighting work?

Currently, there are three ways that circadian rhythm lighting works:

Intensity Tuning

Intensity tuning works by adjusting the brightness, or intensity, of a light through a dimming system. This means that you can adjust the light to be more intense in the morning and less intense as the day goes on.

Color Tuning

This changed the correlated color temperature (CCT) at the right time of day. Cooler color (4000K to 10,000K) is most prevalent during the day, while warmer colors (<2700K to 3500K) are more common when the sun is rising and setting. 

Stimulus Tuning

This kind of technology swaps out “bad blue” light with “good blue” light. This means blue light is reduced at night without altering the CCT.

Brilli Healthy Home Lighting Collection

How can I use circadian rhythm in my own home?

Brilli provides three helpful options if you want to implement this lighting in your daily life:

Get in Sync Collection

These downlights and flush mount work using any standard dimmer. Adjust the dimmer to its highest setting to feel more awake in the morning and focused throughout the day. At night, dim the light down to simulate the warm glow of sunset light, helping your body to unwind and relax.

Charge Up Collection

For rooms that you spend more of your day in, these bulbs can be used to increase energy and wakefulness. If you have a home office, these are especially beneficial in a desk lamp.

Wind Down Collection

These bulbs are a great option for your bedroom or living room, as they stimulate the warmer afternoon and evening light. They’re free of disruptive blue light and can help your body naturally relax and get ready for sleep.