Why replicating natural light is good for the classroom

It’s not called the ‘great outdoors’ for nothing. In fact, there are many benefits that being outside affords both our physical and mental health.

On average, our children and teaching staff spend around 80% of the school day inside dependent on their timetable. For teaching staff, we know the working day certainly doesn’t end at 3.15pm and many students go on to spend much of their evenings at home and indoors. But natural light is so important for our bodies as it helps our skin absorb vitamin D, improves sleep, boosts concentration levels and can ward off seasonal depression.

Benefits for the mind

The benefits of natural light aren’t exclusive to being outside: light from windows can induce the same positive effects as being outdoors. However, because of the size of many schools, there may be some classrooms that have reduced access to natural light or perhaps have no windows or skylights at all. However, that doesn’t mean the benefits natural light need to be lost altogether.

LED lighting can be tuned to imitate natural light as it can be switched to emphasise blue and white light, which in turn has been shown to help students feel more awake and alert in an early morning classroom environment. LED bulbs also offer colour temperature flexibility to help create calm, focused and energetic environments.

Positive effects on learning

Interestingly, LED lighting can also have a positive effect on learning, as reported by Professor Dr. Michael Schulte-Markwort, Director of the Clinic for Psychosomatics in Children and Juveniles at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, following a year-long study.

Alongside previously known gains such as significant energy savings, environmental benefits and lower maintenance, the study, which included 166 children between the ages of 8 and 16 alongside 18 teachers, found that during the year, the switch to LED lighting caused a:

  • 35% increase in reading speed;
  • 45% drop in frequency of errors which purports the claims of improvement in concentration
  • 76% reduction in hyperactivity using the Calm lighting scheme

Improving health

Replicating natural light has other health benefits, including reducing the eye strain and headaches often caused for some by fluorescent lighting which flash continually due to the light being produced by a gas discharge inside the bulb. While the flashing or flickering is too rapid to be seen, it is known that it can interferes with the performance of visual tasks.

Fluorescent lighting can also cause anxiety and lethargy and can therefore reduce productivity, negatively impact mood and reduce reading proficiency.

So, when it comes to the lighting in your school environment, energy-efficiency is certainly one of the factors to consider but the health and wellbeing of pupils, staff and the environment should be your core and primary focus.

Get in touch with Green Tree Energy Saving Solutions today to learn how you could lead the way to a healthier and sustainable future for the next generation.

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