According to Dr. Jacob Liberman, author of "LIGHT: Medicine of the Future" and a pioneer in the therapeutic use of light and color and their relationship to human consciousness —
"When we speak about the quality of light and its importance to the well being of all living organisms, the contributions of Dr. John Ott stand out above those of other researchers in the field."
Lighting research has contributed much to our understanding of the biological benefits of light on human health and behavior. Interestingly, just google "light and health" and the name Dr. John Ott ...the father of full-spectrum light will often be referenced in the overwhelming search results. In addition to Dr. Ott's fascinating contribution, the following represent but a few of the many researchers that have also observed biological benefits in natural, full-spectrum lighted classrooms.
In 1980, Dr. Fritz Hollowich, Professor Emeritus, Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Munster, conducted a study comparing the effects of sitting under strong artificial cool-white; limited-spectrum illumination versus the effects of sitting under strong artificial illumination that simulates full-spectrum sunlight. Using changes in the endocrine system to evaluate these effects, he found stress like levels of ACTH and cortisol (the stress hormones) in individuals in sitting under the cool-white tubes. These changes were totally absent in the individuals sitting under the sunlight-simulating tubes.
The significance of Hollowich's findings becomes clear when the functions of ACTH and cortisol are examined. Both of these metabolic hormones play major roles in the functioning of the entire body and are very much related to stress response. Since their activity increases inhibitors, this may account for the observation that persistent stress stunts bodily growth in children. Hollowich's findings clarify and substantiate the observations of Dr. John Ott* and others regarding the agitated physical behavior, fatigue, and reduced mental capabilities of children. He concluded that the degree of biological disturbance and the resulting behavioral maladaptations were directly related to the difference between the spectral composition of the artificial source and that of natural light.
A study conducted in 1981 at the Elves Memorial Child Development Centre**, a school for handicapped children in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada by the late Dr. Harry Wohlfarth professor emeritus of the University of Alberta and past president of the International Academy of Color Sciences in conjunction with Catherine Sam discovered that replacing fluorescent bulbs with full-spectrum bulbs and a change in the color environment of 14 severely handicapped and behaviorally disturbed 8 to 11 year olds resulted in a drop in blood pressure and reduction in aggressive behavior in both blind and sighted children —
Children that were exposed to full spectrum lighting, which includes ultraviolet, were absent due to illness one-third
of the time less than children whose classroom had standard fluorescent lighting.
A Study Into the Effects of Types of Light on Children - A Case of Daylight Robbery by Warren E. Hathaway, Ph.D. was undertaken for two purposes: (a) to replicate the findings of studies conducted from 1981 to classroom lighting and (b) to test for physical development and school performance effects of four common types of classroom lighting on elementary students. The research supports earlier findings of Dr. Wohlfarth and Catherine Sam and validates the importance of Dr. Ott's ultra violet light findings. Light Mood Performance at School: Final Report An Interim Report to the Department of Education and Training and Department of Public Works and Services, NSW, Australia (Feb 1999) described and evaluated the field research carried out in 1998 (before and after full spectrum lamps were installed in 8 experimental classrooms). Major findings indicated that after installation of the full spectrum lights anxiety, depression and S.A.D. syndromes (lethargy etc) improved, or occurred significantly less. Furthermore, inattention also decreased and was related to improved behaviour. There also seemed to be a strong relationship between S.A.D. and inattention. Healthy Schools Network, Inc: Daylighting & Full Spectrum Light Studies show that poor or inappropriate lighting in schools can adversely affect children’s health and their ability to learn. Sunlight is the most important source of light and energy for humans. Its benefits can be gained through direct exposure outdoors, or skylights in buildings. People spend over 90% of their time indoors. Children spend up to 40 hours per week in school buildings, especially when they participate in after-school activities. Much of this time is spent under artificial lighting. Studies conducted on schools have reported that the use of “daylight” or “full-spectrum lighting” is associated with healthier students.
National efforts are underway to encourage the use of daylighting, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technologies in school designs, which can significantly enhance the learning environment. Recent rigorous statistical studies, indicate the health benefits of daylighting. This paper discusses the evidence regarding daylighting.
* Dr. John Nash Ott
- Ott, John Nash, "School Lighting and Hyperactivity," Journal for Biosocial Research, Summer 1980, p. 6-7.
- Ott, John Nash, "Influence of Fluorescent Lights on Hyperactivity and Learning Disabilities," Journal of Learning Disabilities, August-September 1976, p. 417-422.
- Ott, John Nash, et al., "Light Radiation and Academic Achievement: Second Year Data," Academic Therapy, Summer 1976, pp. 397-407.
- Ott, John Nash, "Color and Light: Their Effects on Plants, Animals and People," Journal of Biosocial Research 7, part 1, 1985.
** Wohlfarth, Harry and Sam, Catherine, "The Effect of Color Psychodynamic Environmental Modification upon Psychophysiological and Behavioral Reactions of Severely Handicapped children," The International Journal of Biosocial Research, 1982, Vol. 3, no 1 pp. 10-3
Mind-body functions, such as appetite, energy, mood, sleep and libido are moderated by circadian rhythms, which are controlled by a natural, neurological process that occurs when light is absorbed through the eye.