Night and Light and the Half-Light
The Gaelic seasonal festival Imbolc takes place halfway in the cycle between the winter solstice and the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere (1 February in the calendar of days).
It is a celebration of the returning of the light, or the returning to the light, depending on one’s perception. (After all, does the sun really ‘rise’ in the east and ‘set’ in the west?) At this time, some will walk ‘round holy wells. If we tune in, we sense the days getting longer. The stretching glow of candles in the home softens the breath in the evening. Sparks. Fresh energy.
These spheres ripple into our fields, always present if not always acknowledged, until they reach the graspable routine of 24 hours, in the lived experiences of our circadian rhythms.
Responding to the light and the dark, these biological rhythms affect our health by influencing hormone release, body temperature, and rest and digest functions.
Our internal circadian clocks need to adjust and readjust to remain in alignment with external time, changing seasons, environmental changes.
According to a recent article by researchers at the University of Oxford, “Such an alignment allows organisms to deliver the correct materials, in the correct concentration to the correct organ systems at the optimal time of day. This ‘fine-tuning’ of biology is essential for survival. Without entrainment of the circadian system all ‘fine-tuning’ is lost and physiology and behaviour drifts into chaos, termed ‘internal desynchrony'”. (1)
A wellness home and work space then is designed with consideration for these deeper rhythms and to support circadian entrainment.
This may include an indoor lighting system that is dynamic – with illumination, color mix and temperature that can be adjusted and shift subtly throughout the day, into twilight and the night.
If you are designing a property in Germany, guidelines for “biologically effective illumination” are found in DIN SPEC 67600. The international standard CIE S026 also provides guidelines and a toolbox for implementing the standard.
Experts are cautious though regarding simulated, commercial lighting systems; they underscore that there are still risks and uncertainties.
While preparing to design and implement technologies such as tunable lighting, let us remember first to tune into the earth properly. We require better scientific understanding of circadian entrainment to implement effective and beneficial circadian lighting systems. We can also seek now to restore and integrate ancient wisdom about living in harmony with nature — and then enhance this with scientific knowledge and technology.
In sum, wellness real estate design focuses on promoting circadian entrainment with a holistic lifestyle approach, implementing circadian lighting systems carefully — with technical knowledge of standards and recommended practices. A wellness building’s circadian entrainment design situates the occupants’ circadian rhythms and the earth’s rhythms in the center, acknowledged and respected, rippling in, and out — back into space.❂
(1) Ashton, Anna et al. “Photic Entrainment of the Circadian System.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 23,2 729. 10 Jan. 2022, doi:10.3390/ijms23020729
Feature photo by cottonbro