Lighting up our lives: why light is so important to humans

Lighting up our lives: why light is so important to humans

It’s easy to take light for granted. After all, it surrounds us. Today we’ll explore why light is important to us, and how shopping centers, cities and public spaces can harness the power of light to create experiences to attract and engage visitors.

Lighting in nature

In nature, we delight in the first ray of the sunrise, the midday sun beating down, the glorious spectacle of sunset, the bonfires that we sit around when night falls, the twinkling of stars, the benevolent moon, the bio-luminescence of sea creatures, fireflies and other insects.

Artificial light

Artificial light is even more prevalent. Every time we turn on our mobile phones or our laptops, we’re bathed in light. Offices and homes and shops and malls glow with LEDs. Backlit advertising boards and digital advertising screens compete for our attention. And when the sun sinks below the horizons in just about every city, town and village in the developed world, street lamps and store fronts and car lights illuminate the darkest night.

But why is light such an important factor in our lives? Here are five reasons that might not have occurred to you.

Five reasons why light is important to humans

We evolved to need light

Earth is a planet on which there have always been periods of light and dark and our circadian rhythms are largely controlled by the sun. We have evolved to not only love light, but to need light: we see best in the light and have limited sight in the darkness; daily exposure to light keeps us healthy and light is already used in a number of therapeutic applications; and since time began, light has allowed us to live productive lives, has kept the darkness away, and has met practical needs like providing warmth, a method of cooking and even a measure of security.

Light shapes our moods

As the seasons change, we have access to more or less natural light, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere. Too little light leaves some of us depressed, suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Most people prefer to feel buoyant, not depressed, and getting enough light – even artificial light – means that it’s possible to keep sad and depressed moods at bay.

Light makes our modern life possible

Before artificial light, our productivity was limited by the number of daylight hours. Fire helped to extend our days, as did gas light, and now lighting powered by electricity gives us the ability to stay awake longer, come up with new ideas, be innovative and, quite literally, change the world at record speed.

Light creates atmosphere

Lighting dictates what a space “feels” like. Bright white lights glaring off walls create a clinical atmosphere. Warm white lights make any space a little more welcoming. Colorful lights that twinkle on and off make a space more festive. With relatively little effort, we can transform any space and convey a very specific feeling using light. We use this in our offices and homes and leisure spaces every day.

Light affects our emotions

Bright light intensifies emotions, regardless of whether they are negative or positive. Low light keeps our emotions steady, which means that people tend to make better decisions in lower light, and find it easier to agree and compromise when negotiating. Anything that can alter our emotions and control our behavior is important.

Harnessing light to create experiences

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