Did you know that virtually all existing LED lights are actually blue?
They are built around a light source in the form of a small chip of semi-conductor material that releases energy in the form of photons. These photons are emitted as extremely bright blue light. This is then covered with a layer of phosphor that makes the light we actually see appear white or yellow. The resulting light is cost-effective and long-lasting, but not necessarily ideal for us humans. Only now is science revealing what it has been doing to our optical health and physical/mental wellbeing.
The problem is essentially twofold since it impacts our visual and non-visual systems.
For our visual system: By combining a blue light with a phosphor overlay a lamp can only achieve an impoverished or limited colour spectrum. Reds and oranges, skin tones in particular, are often not well defined, whites, also suffer. This may seem subtle, but it has been proven to impact our choices and moods. Furthermore, it may mean that our children actually never learn to appreciate the full range of colour out in the real world.
And for our non-visual system (ie parts of us that respond to light but don’t actually ‘see’ it): The phosphor doesn’t actually hide the original light source – not really. Our bodies are still responding to the spikes of blue light wavelengths being emitted. This is particularly key after the sun has set since our non-visual system or body clock is stimulated instead of being allowed to wind down and prepare for sleep.
Well the quality and sheer quantity of artificial light that surrounds us (increased by 70% since the turn of the century) is having a significant impact on our physical and mental experience of the world.
For a start, since the western world spends as much as 90% of the day inside and the majority of us use LED lighting in our houses, we are effectively living in a world drained of many of the critical and beautiful qualities of colour: from our ability to read facial expressions to our experience of food. The long-term impact of operating under a colour spectrum that’s only 70-80% of that which the sun provides, on our ability to relate to each other and experience the world is profound and complex.
Further, high level spikes of blue light (specifically, those that subject us to peaks of blue when the sun’s blue content has faded to super low levels – ie from late afternoon until sunrise) are messing with our sleep/wake cycle – known as our Circadian rhythm. It means that we are getting less quality REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and are thus less alert in the daytime; less rejuvenating sleep in those early hours of the morning and even less slow-wave sleep (which accounts for 50% or more of the daily release of growth hormones and is thus especially crucial for children and teenagers, but also helps with our repair processes). This reduced quality of sleep is also associated with significant increases in anxiety, depression, ADHD, and more in multiple studies.
How can we overcome these problems?
While the harsh blue source is a significant part of the problem (tip: look out for BlueBalanced technology as a healthier alternative), the overlay is also critical to achieving a better light quality for you and your family.
By using a Full Spectrum phosphor mix – one that contains the optimal balance of green, red and blue – we can achieve a much rounder or more complete light source that is in alignment with the colour rendering the sun creates in the natural world.
Not only that, but it also achieves a better colour fidelity and is much gentler on our eyes, since discrimination between tones and shades is easier and everything appears more vivid.
So what should I look for?
Look out for light sources in your home and office environments (the places where you spend the most amount of time) that combine:
a Full Spectrum overlay that satisfies our visual system by providing a full palette colour experience
with a substrate light source (or semi-conductor chip) that does not cause the intense blue emissions so that we are not receiving blue light stimulus at the wrong times of day
This way we can alleviate the internal battles that are exhausting our bodies and brains and set ourselves free to simply enjoy beautiful light – something which all scientists agree is fundamental to both our physical health and mental wellbeing.
Both the Calm & RAY Dynamic ranges, revolutionary lighting solutions by the team at RAY Lighting, use a brand new and unique blend for its Full Spectrum phosphor as just one of the ways the company is working to make light healthier and better. Combined with a BlueBalanced chip (COB), an engineered lens for beam precision and Flicker Free Bridging Technology, this humancentric, Circadian friendly approach to lighting offers an excellent alternative for a wide range of environments.
Dr Shelley James, a specialist in the field of light, ophthalmology and psychology, who has been testing the RAY LED lightbulbs, comments: “we have known about the potential health hazards for a number of years. But RAY’s innovative approach means that the UK consumer finally has access to an affordable, sustainable – and beautiful – way to bring healthy lighting home.”
SunRay is the world’s first Circadian friendly range of LED bulbs, created by the UK’s RAY Lighting. Combining many years of experience in the lighting industry, a passion for beautiful design and a drive to bring organic, natural light into all aspects of our lives, RAY Lighting has succeeded in creating Full Spectrum violet chip LED GU10/MR16 form light bulbs, with a flicker percentage as low as zero. BlueBalance Technologies free your body from the spikes of blue light that currently control our natural sleep/alert rhythms and allows it to align itself fully with the sunlight, eliminating many of the problems associated with synthetic light. Learn more about the RAY story here.