Smart Bulbs: The Future Of Relaxation March 22, 2017 00:00
Stress is a killer.
We all know it, and we’ve all felt what it’s like when we have too much of it. In fact, Americans are reporting their stress levels are on the rise with over one-third of the population reporting increased stress in the past year alone.
What’s worse is the havoc too much daily stress can have on your body. From headaches and rashes to depression and heart disease, stress overload can give you a wide range of health problems (and the list goes on).
So, how can you fight off your overwhelming stress before it begins controlling your life?
Simple: by taking a minute to just relax.
Whether it’s at the end of a long shift at work or a quick fifteen minutes in the middle of your day, forcing yourself to relax is one of the best ways you can counteract stress’s harmful effects and give your body and mind some time to recoup.
And when it comes to relaxation, few things are as effective as the sensory immersion provided by smart bulbs.
But before getting into that, let’s take a closer look at how our body reacts to stress and how daily relaxation can help you.
Your body and stress
Stress is one of those things that everyone wishes they didn’t have, right up there with mosquitoes and pimples.
But the truth is, if we never felt any stress we simply wouldn’t get anything done! After all, if you truly don’t have a care in the world then what’s to stop you from skipping work and never paying taxes again?
So, while we may hate feeling it, each of us actually needs at least some stress in our lives to keep us productive.
That being said, our bodies aren’t built to handle chronic stress. While short bursts can spur us into action, long bouts of stress can really do a number on our physical health, resulting in countless discomforts and even life threatening diseases.
Beyond that, regular relaxation can provide a host of benefits including higher productivity levels, better memory, increased alertness, and being a generally happier person!
Stress relief with sensory immersion
So what’s the best way to relax in the hustle and bustle of the modern world?
That’s where sensory immersion comes in. By bathing your body’s audio and visual centers in soothing sounds and light, you give yourself over to relaxation more easily. That’s why spas and yoga retreats are often accompanied by serene decorations and lulling music: it makes it simpler to really let go.
Let’s take a quick look at the science here.
In a study by Penn State associate professor of bio-behavioral health Orfeu Buxton, researchers discovered that the mind is particularly good at relaxing with soothing sounds by comparing responses to abrupt threats (like alarm clocks) and gradual non-threats (like an approaching thunderstorm).
He found that gradual non-threats can be played almost twice as loud before getting the same response as abrupt threats. So, while you may wake up at even the slightest creak in the floorboards amidst the silence of the night, your mind can keep you relaxed enough to stay asleep even among crashes of waves, clamors of thunder, or the sharp chirps of birds.
Think of these types of sounds as a way to hack into our own minds and prime them for relaxation.
And the research doesn’t stop there.
There have been a wealth of studies on how simply looking at a relaxing picture, like that of a forest, can actually be quite effective at reducing stress and lowering the risk of depression. One study even showed that patients in intensive care could lessen their need for pain medication by looking at pictures of trees and water!
It seems, then, that one of the best ways to relax is to surround yourself with the perfect combination of light and sound…
Melt the stress away with smart bulbs
Cue smart bulbs.
If you’ve had your finger on the pulse of the light bulb industry, you already know that you can set your high-quality smart bulbs to shine out over 16 million different colors, and even create custom schemes that transition from one hue to another.
But did you know that some smart bulbs like the Flux Smart Melody come with the ability to play music and soundscapes from your phone or tablet as well?
While these nifty features can be particularly useful when it comes to throwing a rockin’ get together, you can also use the speaker and color changing abilities to set the perfect mood for you to relax in.
Just imagine coming home from a long day at the office and taking a load off in your favorite chair by listening to the soothing sound of waves on a beach and bathing yourself in cool blue light.
Feel that stress melting away yet?
With a smart bulb in hand, the power to relieve stress whenever you want is right in your smart device. Happy relaxing!
Let us know what you think!
What have you found to be an especially great way to relax? Have you used smart lighting to help take a load off? Let us know in the comment section below and de-stress your life with the Flux Smart product line!
Ushering In Spring? Think Green For Your Design Scheme March 15, 2017 00:00
Green: it’s the color of life, luxury, and new beginnings.
And now that the frigid months of winter are mostly behind us (fingers crossed), we’re all about to be seeing a lot more of it!
With flowers in bloom and the lush grass starting to finally fill in, it’s about time to give your interior design scheme a fresh new makeover to match. And what better color to do that than green?
We’ve put together a few pointers to help you Spring-ify your home this year, whether it’s by repainting your walls entirely or just adding a splash of green here and there. And don’t forget about the importance of lighting!
What can green do for your home?
A lot of interior designers are starting to catch on to the versatility of this powerful and alluring color. From the rich luxury of a stately olive tone to the vibrant freshness of a powerful emerald, green has a lot to offer almost any room.
The trick, however, is how you use it.
Just like most colors in your decorating palette, it’s important not to overdo it. While a bright green runner can do wonders for really making your entryway pop, covering each of your walls in the same tone can come off unnerving and tasteless.
It’s no wonder that most people use green more often as an accent color rather than a base. The room pictured above, for example, shows just how much difference a few pieces of bright green accent can really add life and attitude to a space that would have otherwise been cold and lacking personality.
Blending your greens
While making your colors pop is one approach to interior design, another common and effective way of incorporating green into your home décor is by blending it in with similar hues.
Instead of having sharp bursts of color, then, choosing a subtler tone and surrounding it with darker shades like browns, dark yellows, and faded blues can add rich layers of complexity to a space, just like the warm and attractive bedroom pictured above.
Subdued solid colors
If you do end up deciding to use a solid tone of green for your wall colors, it might be best to go with a more palatable shade like an Avocado, Olive, Fern, or Asparagus Green.
Choosing any of these over the typical accent greens you’ll find can help give your area a powerful sense of character and personality without being disconcerting. Have a look at the children’s room pictured above to get a good idea of what a well selected hue can do for a space.
How to light your greens just right
As with any successful interior design scheme, choosing the right type of lighting to get the most out of your greens is crucial. And in order to do that, you need to know the difference between warm and cool lighting.
Color temperature is a way to describe the type of light a lamp gives off. Warmer lights like incandescent bulbs and candles tend to have a richer, more yellow light while fluorescent and halogen bulbs will produce bluer, “cooler” light.
Deciding on what type of illumination fits your design scheme really depends on what kind of personality you want a space to have. Warm tends to be inviting while cool can give an area a more modern feel.
But when it comes to lighting your greens, cool matches up particularly well with bright accent colors while warmer colored temperatures will often do better with the subdued hues.
As with any interior design element though, the best options for lighting are the ones that offer the most flexibility. Dimmer switches, for instance, can help you fine tune your lighting to perfectly accentuate a space without having to buy multiple bulbs with different light outputs.
And beyond that, many smart bulbs offer consumers the ability to change the light color on the fly, giving anyone access to over 16 million different hues to choose from. With that kind of flexibility, you’re sure to find that perfect colored light to really make those greens pop!
Let us know what you think!
How has incorporating green into your design scheme changed your home? What kind of lighting tips do you have when it comes to green décor? Let us know in the comment section below and bring in spring with the Flux Smart product line!
Lighting Tricks To Bring Out The Best In Your Dark Design March 08, 2017 00:00
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when working out your home’s interior design scheme is over-lighting your rooms.
We’ve all been in those kitchens that make you feel like you’re on stage, or those family rooms with lights so bright that it’s more like being in an office building than a warm, inviting space.
This is a particularly common problem when it comes to homes with dark interior design elements. And it seems to make sense, doesn’t it? If you have a lot of dark furniture, all you have to do is even it out with bright lights.
Unfortunately, doing so can really overshadow the striking beauty your darker elements can add to your home. But luckily, there are several lighting tricks specifically for a darker design scheme that’ll really make your décor pop.
So whether you’re trying to illuminate a dim and dramatic entryway, redesigning your shaded bathroom, or working out just the right feel for your moody living room, use the tips below to really get the most out of your dark design scheme.
Fill in the Dark with Extra Design Accents
Spaces with a dark design can be especially affected by adding in a lot of accent elements. Part of the reason for this comes from the fact that the darkness creates a great backdrop for the elements due to the natural contrast it creates.
In the bedroom above, for instance, each design element really seems to pop. And when you add the right accent lighting to the equation, you get a dark and dramatic room that looks simply fantastic.
Take Advantage of Natural Light
If you aren’t taking advantage of your natural light, you’re missing out on one of the best ways to brighten up your home. And that goes double for spaces with dark interior design schemes!
Not only can it help save quite a bit when it comes to your energy cost, it can also bring a certain vibrancy to a room that can counterbalance the dark design elements quite well.
As we mentioned earlier, over lighting can lead to a real drain on the energy your rooms are giving off. What’s more, you might be amazed at how little light you actually need to truly bring a space to life. One of the easiest ways to put this to a test is by incorporating dimmers or dimmable smart bulbs into your lighting elements and seeing what lower light can do for a room.
The bedroom above, for example, makes use of just two small accent lights on the end tables to turn what could have been an everyday bedroom into a charming and alluring suite.
Drawing the eye towards a certain element in the room is one of the core principles of interior design. Color, form, and uniqueness all go a long way towards this end but when it comes to where the eye instinctively lands upon entering a space, it’s all about the lighting.
As you can see from the largely dark-featured kitchen above, highlighting the center island with bright light builds the rooms character around the centerpiece, not the dark cabinetry. As a result, the kitchen feels light and airy rather than cramped and cloistered.
Bright Light with Dark Furniture
With homes that feature especially dark design elements like the kitchen above, it actually turns out to be far less off-putting to use exceptionally bright lighting. As you can see, this kitchen is bathed in light and yet doesn’t feel “on the spot” like a light-featured space might.
So if your home has particularly dark elements, kicking up the brightness a notch might be just the trick to giving your design the perfect look.
Task lighting is a great way to break up the darkness in your interior design scheme. Not only can it help you brighten up areas that need a bit more light (like the countertops above), they can also create a visually appealing contrast to the surrounding dark areas. Instead of finding ways to brighten up the darkness then, you can embrace it to add more character to a space.
Let us know what you think!
How have you used lighting to turn a dark and gloomy room into one with character and style? Have you tried any of the techniques outlined above and, if so, how did they work for you? Let us know in the comment section below and brighten up your home with the Flux Smart product line!
The Anatomy Of A Smart Bulb: What Makes Them So Special? March 01, 2017 00:00
When it comes to producing light for your home, there aren’t any options out there that’ll save you money like LEDs.
These bulbs use 75% less energy and have 25 times the lifespan of traditional incandescent bulbs and 2-3 times the lifespan of a fluorescent bulb.
And what’s more, with all the research funding from a variety of sources including the Department of Energy, LEDs have never been cheaper!
First and foremost: how does an LED create light?
But how exactly do these amazing bulbs work that make them so much more efficient than other bulbs? Well, the secret is in the fact that LEDs are a type of solid-state lighting, or SSL.
That means that instead of using electricity to heat a tungsten filament in a vacuum (like an incandescent bulb) or applying a current to a gas and then converting that energy to light (like a fluorescent bulb), solid-state lighting is simply applying electricity to a material. The result is less steps between the electricity and the produced light, giving you LED owners out there more efficiency.
It works like this: LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are built from a semiconductor chip. This chip is made up of material that doesn’t fully conduct electricity or fully insulate from it, but is rather somewhere in between.
This material has both a positively charged part and a negatively charged part to it. What this breaks down to on a molecular level is a part that has electron “holes” (that’s the positive part) and a part that has a bunch of extra floating electrons (that’s the negative part). When you add electricity to the equation, those extra electrons from the negative side will jump into the holes of the positive side, a process which has the side effect of producing light!
The main takeaway from this, though, is the fact that the electricity interacts directly with the material that creates the light and there really aren’t any moving parts in the system. There are heat sinks to take away some of the excess heat from the system (that’s the part that takes up half the bulb and makes them look so different) and covers to the diodes but not a whole lot else! Translation? Less energy loss, more efficiency, and a much nicer looking electricity bill!
How can just one light create over 16 million different colors?
And what about all the different lighting options that high-quality smart bulbs offer the more aesthetic-minded consumers nowadays? How do manufacturers pull that off?
Well this one is actually simpler than you might think. The entire spectrum of visible light that we can pick up with our eyes can be reproduced by the interaction of three colors: red, green, and blue. Anyone out there who has ever fiddled around with their TV’s color settings may have noticed this fact before as you can change the levels of each to create any hue you want.
In a color-changing LED bulb then, each bulb contains three different kinds of colored diodes made up of red, green, and blue. When red combines with blue, you get magenta. Red and green creates yellow (light combinations are different than paint combinations!), and blue with green gives off cyan.
While the interaction between these colors alone can create a wide range and variety of different hues, you still can’t get to 16 million color choices just from these six. And that’s where brightness levels come in. If, say, red is combined with blue but the red light is only displayed at 50% brightness, you get a color in between magenta and blue.
You can see, then, how all of these different variables can add up to one truly versatile color palette that will give you more lighting choices than you’ve ever dreamt of!
How does an LED actually dim and brighten?
Back in the early days of LED development, you may have heard about LEDs being incompatible with dimming switches. And while this inconvenience was definitely true of LEDs at one point, they’ve come a long long way since then. In fact, most smart bulbs today offer not only compatibility with dimmer switches but also the ability to dim these neat little bulbs directly from your smart device. So, what changed between now and then?
The key difference between modern smart bulbs and the LEDs of yore is the implementation of either pulse-width modulation (PWM) or constant current reduction (CCR) which also goes by analog dimming.
PWM is basically an incredibly quick activation and deactivation of the lighting element. So instead of the LED staying on constantly, it achieves a dimmer appearance by quickly turning off and then back on. And while you may be thinking, “why doesn’t it look like they’re blinking?” the answer is that it all happens so quickly that the human eye can’t detect the individual blinks because they’re so fast. Instead, our eyes take the average light levels of the process, making it look like the bulb is actually dimmer. And when you make it even dimmer, that just means the light is turning off more often in any given second. Ingenious solution!
CCR is another method to dim certain LEDs and consists of reducing the power of the current fed to the bulb. This is the traditional method to adjust a bulb’s brightness but only recently have we been able to apply it to LED bulbs.
Combine it all together to create a smart bulb!
Put it all together and throw in a WiFi signal receiver and a microcomputer and you’ve got one of the most technologically advanced pieces of equipment in the home section today: the smart bulb!
Let us know what you think!
What kinds of questions or comments do you have about the anatomy of a smart bulb? Let us know in the comment section below and see the amazing technological achievements that are smart bulbs firsthand at the Flux Smart product section!
9 Lighting Mistakes That Are Holding Your Interior Design Hostage February 22, 2017 00:00
Have you invested an enormous amount of time and effort into your interior design only to have your home still feeling, well, not quite right?
Beautiful furniture, stunning décor, and a spacious layout? Sure, but despite all this, the design still seems just a bit off.
Can’t put your finger on what it is?
Your home might actually be suffering from one of these 9 common lighting mistakes. Have a look at the list below and find out how to bring out your home’s natural beauty with great lighting!
Not taking advantage of natural light
One of the most common mistakes when it comes to home lighting is not taking advantage of natural light.
It’s interior design rule #1 that you should always use natural light when you can and that means relocating bulky furniture and opening those curtains, no matter how great they may look.
Besides the energy cost savings associated with natural light, there are also a host of other benefits to incorporating the sun’s rays into your interior lighting, from improved sleep and productivity to an overall better mood.
Too much/little light for the space
This mistake might seem obvious when you think about it but you’d be astonished at how often it’s still ignored in the real world. When deciding how to light your home, you need to be aware of how much space you are trying to fill.
Recessed lighting, for example, can mean an effective way to light a kitchen but its use in a high-ceiling entryway might make your home appear dark and brooding.
Think of light as an actual resource, with each fixture providing its own, particular amount of light. Instead of the typical “4 light sources per room”, try to look at the lighting needs of a room as a unique puzzle with its own specific lighting solution. What may work in one area simply won’t in another!
Wrong lighting type for the room
Along with determining a room’s specific brightness needs, you’ll also have to be thinking about the “feel” of the room you want to get across. Using row upon row of recessed lighting in the kitchen (another mistake we’ll get to later) is one thing, but doing so in your bedroom is entirely different.
Use soft, ambient light for rooms that you think should have a more welcoming, comfortable atmosphere and some of the more structured lighting choices for more task-oriented spaces.
This tip goes hand in hand with the last one: make sure your lighting temperature matches the mood of the space.
Light temperature has an enormous impact on just what kind of vibe a room gives off. Traditional incandescent bulbs have a softer kind of light, usually referred to as “warm”. Fluorescent and halogen bulbs, on the other hand, tend to give off a “cool” blue light that isn’t quite as welcoming. Knowing the difference between “warm” and “cool” light, and how to use each effectively, can do wonders for your interior design.
Even if your bedroom is only lit by table fixtures and standing lamps, the warmth of the area can be completely negated simply by having a “cool” light source. Luckily, incorporating smart bulbs into your design scheme can entirely bypass this design hiccup as most will let you choose precisely what kind of light the bulb gives off, giving you access to the entire light temperature spectrum, right from your smart device. Technology!
Overdoing recessed lighting
Recessed lighting is a wonderful thing. It’s clean, effective, and is getting cheaper by the day. And while it’s becoming the top lighting fixture used in modern home design today, it’s also becoming more common to go a bit overboard with this particular type of fixture, in kitchens especially.
Relying entirely on recessed lighting to meet your illumination needs can be problematic because these sources are highly directional. A lamp, for instance, tends to disperse light in a variety of directions. Recessed lighting though, will often be more focused, brightening only a small area directly below.
The problem with this type of lighting is it doesn’t shed light on vertical surfaces (e.g. cabinets, refrigerators, walls, etc.) as well. This can lead to a high contrast kitchen with bright counters and dark cabinetry despite a large number of overhead lights. What’s more, direct lighting alone has been shown to have some pretty nasty subconscious side effects as well.
Not enough layering
A great way to combat the high contrast shadows mentioned above is by layering your light. This technique is an effective way to give your rooms not only proper illumination but also complexity and depth that will really bring your décor to life.
There are three types of lighting: ambient, accent, and task. A living room, for example, should include enough ambient light to get around, accent lighting to bring the eye to particularly impressive design elements like sculptures or paintings, and task lighting for reading for instance.
Getting task lighting right
Proper task lighting means really stopping to think about what the space will be used for. Lighting from above, for example, can be great for, say, chopping up vegetables. But when it comes to putting on makeup in the morning, this same kind of light can create shadows on your face in the bathroom mirror.
So, take the time to think about what the light is being used for. It’ll save you from a lot of unnecessary hassle down the line and it’ll add a bit of variety to your design scheme too!
Neglecting the power of dimmers
Dimmers, dimmers, dimmers! What more can we say? Dimmers give you a level of flexibility and control that few other lighting features can offer. They can transform a brightly lit, task-oriented space into a welcoming room you just never want to leave. And all at a moment’s notice!
Smart bulbs make this feature even more accessible as many feature the ability to dim the bulb directly. That means you get to avoid the hassle of installing a dimmer switch and you can even control the bulb right from your phone! Talk about convenience.
Underusing portable fixtures
And last but not least is the underutilization of portable fixtures. As we mentioned earlier, permanent lighting like recessed lights are becoming all the rage and, frankly, that’s unfortunate. Portable fixtures like desk and standing lamps have so much to offer!
Besides the typical warmth and homey feel that these lighting elements bright to a room, they also give you two design elements in one: both light output and fixture design. Let’s see recessed lighting do that!
Let us know what you think!
What other lighting mistakes in home décor have you seen? How has fixing these lighting problems changed the design of your home? Let us know in the comment section below and increase your design flexibility with the Flux Smart product line!
How To Light Your Home Office For Maximum Productivity February 15, 2017 00:00
Whether you are getting a bit of work done from home over the weekend or your job lets you work remotely every day of the week, when your workplace is in your own home it seems like simply staying focused on the task at hand is a challenge.
That’s why when it comes to boosting productivity from your home workspace, you need to take all the help you can get. You’ve already got down the basics; noise cancelling headphones, putting your cell on silent, and physically separating yourself from distractions (e.g. television, family members, pets, etc.) are all great ways to keep yourself focused. But there are a few other powerful ways of boosting your productivity that many people don’t even think of.
And they’re all capable thanks to, you guessed it, smart lighting.
Harness the energy of Blue Light
When it comes down to deciding on how to light your workspace to bring out your most productive side, the answer is clear: use cool, blue light. No matter if you’ve read up on the stimulating effects of this particular hue from previous posts, have heard about the numerous studies out there backing up its energizing properties (better than a cup of coffee according to some), or have just felt the effects for yourself, there’s no question that blue lighting may have a hand in helping you reach your full productive potential.
The secret lies in the fact that blue light is the type of lighting that most closely resembles natural daylight. Since a range of our bodies’ natural processes (like the production of the sleep chemical “melatonin”) are tied directly to our exposure to natural light, basking in a cool blue glow while working will stop your body from going into sleep mode. That’ll give you the energy you need to get even more work done.
And since most smart lighting gives you the ability to choose from over 16 million different colors on a whim, you’ll have direct access to this productivity hack whenever you want!
But don’t over-blue it!
Although, just because you can bio-hack your body into thinking it’s daytime well past sunset doesn’t mean you should. As a multitude of recent studies have shown, exposure to blue light in particular is more disruptive to your body’s sleep patterns than any other color (which is why it’s so helpful in keeping you productive!).
That’s why many offices around the world are investing in transitional color lights. They start off by producing cool, energizing blue light in the morning and gradually change to a warmer yellow light as it gets closer to quitting time. Such a transition will not only help workers get a better night sleep, it’ll also help ease them out of the working mindset, letting them better enjoy their time at home.
If you own high-quality smart bulbs, you can reap these same benefits by setting an 8-hour transition from cool colored light to warmer tones. And all it takes a new light bulb!
True brightness control
So, now that you’ve found out how to optimally control your lighting color to create a truly productive home workspace, there’s only one factor left: brightness. While it may be natural to assume that a brighter light means higher productivity, the truth is we may already be getting too much light in the workplace as it is.
In addition to the fact that lighting which is too bright can cause fluctuations in your mood, resulting in irritability and discomfort, there are some unwanted physical effects as well such as headaches and eye fatigue. If the lighting is too dim though, you may be lured into taking a midday nap. Never a good idea with a long to-do list!
The trick is getting your lighting just right. That could mean picking out a bulb that has the perfect brightness output but then again, not every activity has the same lighting requirements. For instance, reading physical documents or writing a letter will require a certain level of brightness in your home office while creating a table in Excel or doing research on the internet means you won’t need near as much light.
The solution? Lighting that allows you to change the brightness levels to cater to your activities. And smart lighting is just the ticket. In fact, many smart bulbs give you the option of saving lighting settings, letting you quickly pick out the atmosphere that’ll fit the task at hand. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that!
Let us know what you think!
How else do you use smart lighting to help you cross things off your to-do list? Do you have any other tips for boosting productivity at home using smart bulbs? Let us know in the comment section below and get productive with the Flux Smart product line!
The Power Of Light: An Illuminating Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment February 08, 2017 00:00
Now that the holidays are winding down and the winter weather is fully upon us, a significant portion of the population may feel their moods start to take a turn.
And though it may be tempting to put off addressing these feelings, the truth is if you are one of these individuals, you may be one of the 16 million US citizens experiencing seasonal affective disorder.
But don’t worry! Treatment has become easier than ever. And what’s more, all it takes is a little bit of light.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression that usually occurs each year around the gloomy winter months. While some may attribute the winter blues simply to a dissatisfaction with the change of weather, SAD is accepted as a very real medical disorder in the medical community that affects nearly 5% of the population every single year.
The term was first coined by Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D., and his associates in the early 1980s when Rosenthal noticed his own depression during the dark winter months in the northern United States. Although Rosenthal’s research on the subject was first met with intense skepticism, SAD is now widely recognized and treated by many medical professionals.
What causes SAD?
Since seasonal affective disorder is still being studied in the scientific community, its exact causes aren’t yet fully known. However, there are several factors which experts believe may contribute to the development of this disorder:
- Melatonin Production – Melatonin is a chemical produced by the body that helps regulate sleep patterns as well as your mood. The more melatonin you have, the sleepier you become. In fact, melatonin is even sold in many stores as a natural alternative to sedatives like Ambien and Lunesta.
- Serotonin Production – Serotonin is another powerful chemical your body produces. It plays a major role in mood and its production can be stunted by the onset of winter.
- Circadian Rhythm – Also known as your internal clock, the circadian rhythm can also be thrown off during the darker months which, in turn, can lead to depression.
Though there are undoubtedly other factors at play, the alteration of these three bodily processes are considered to be directly linked with SAD.
So, what is it about winter that changes them? Is it the cold? The precipitation? Something in the air?
Nope, nope, and, well, maybe a little. It’s the light.
As you may have read before, the natural processes of our bodies are highly dependent on how much light we are exposed to. Various levels of lighting can leave us feeling anywhere from energized and poised to take on the day to sleepy and ready to turn in for the night. Part of this is due to the fact that light directly affects the above listed factors.
When some individuals are regularly exposed to less light throughout the day, such as in the winter months, a combination of altered melatonin and serotonin production as well as a confused circadian rhythm can lead to the development of SAD.
What treatment options are there?
One of the best ways to treat a condition brought on by a lack of sunlight is by, you guessed it, being exposed to more sunlight! Now, the problem is that finding actual sunlight during this gloomy time of the year can be problematic. Plus you have to find the time to do it; no easy feat for some
That’s where light boxes come in. Light boxes are lighting elements designed specifically for treating sufferers of seasonal affective disorder. They provide an alternative source of high-powered lighting for individuals who may not have the flexibility to spend more time outdoors or who are on a side of the earth that the sun simply refuses to visit (we’re looking at you Seattle).
And in addition to being incredibly convenient, they’re remarkably effective too, providing depression relief on the same level as antidepressants in some cases.
What’s involved in Light Therapy?
Though specific treatment guidelines vary from case to case and should always be determined with the help of a qualified doctor, many sufferers of SAD find their symptoms are dramatically reduced by using a light box with an output of at least 10,000 lux for 30 minutes a day. And since treatment consists of simply exposing your eyes to the light, many patients are able to watch TV, read, or work during sessions.
While you may be tempted to simply turn up your own home lighting to combat seasonal affective disorder, achieving the required light output can be quite difficult without specialized lighting.
In addition to the brightness requirements, many people at one time believed the lighting had to contain the full spectrum of colors just like natural sunlight. Recent research has shown, though, that SAD sufferers can actually experience the same benefits from a particular band of blue light alone.
The result of this finding, along with dropping manufacturing costs, has led to a surge in LED light box production since LEDs are able to produce a very precise type of light as opposed to full spectrum light. And not only that, LEDs are far more efficient in terms of energy usage as well, meaning cheaper costs as well as lower electricity bills.
Because of the variety and efficacy of treatment options out there, sufferers of seasonal affective disorder have more hope than ever to get over those winter blues.
So there you have it. Just another way LEDs are revolutionizing the lighting industry and helping to brighten up your world!
Let us know what you think!
Do you have any tips for sufferers of seasonal affective disorder? How has using light therapy changed the way you go through the winter months? Let us know in the comment section below and don’t forget to brighten up your day with the Flux Smart product line!
3 Surprising Uses for Smart Lighting in Healthcare February 01, 2017 00:00
Imagine a world where the devastating effects Alzheimer’s disease could be completely reversed simply by daily exposure to a flashing light.
Or where sufferers of depression or PTSD are cured by the deletion, manipulation, or fabrication of entire memories using just the power of light.
Although this world may sound too bizarre to be true, scientists are already closer than you think to making these treatments become a reality. And it’s all thanks to light!
While you may have to wait a decade or two until you see these treatments in hospitals though, here are 3 surprising ways that smart lighting is being used to help treat illnesses today.
Using light to combat neonatal jaundice
But when it comes to fighting physical disease, nothing is more indicative of the power of light than its use in treating neonatal jaundice.
Occurring in an estimated 50% and 80% of term and preterm infants respectively, neonatal jaundice is incredibly common. During pregnancy, a mother’s body is responsible for removing a substance called bilirubin from her child’s blood through the placenta. After the child is born though, sometimes his or her organs haven’t yet adapted and can’t remove all the bilirubin immediately.
Most cases tend to clear up on their own after a week or so but, in some cases, the bilirubin continues to build up. In the event of this continual buildup, the primary treatment method is phototherapy (this is where the light comes in).
Phototherapy involves exposing the baby’s skin to as much blue light of a specific frequency (460-490nm) as possible. This blue light helps to break down the bilirubin into components that are more easily processed by the liver or removed through bile and urine.
The lighting components of choice were at one time fluorescent or halogen lamps but due to the ease of spectrum designation, cost effectiveness, and superior bulb lifespan, LEDs are becoming more and more the go-to option.
Brightening up geriatric care units
Moving from babies to seniors, the senior assisted living sector is finding ways to benefit from the versatility of smart lighting as well.
In addition to the sunlight emulating spectrum of specially manufactured LEDS (which can have especially beneficial effects on agitation and depression in geriatric centers), many facilities are beginning to invest in 24-hour cycle smart lighting systems.
As you’ve no doubt heard already, lighting has a direct link to your body’s melatonin and cortisol production because of a certain receptor in your eyes called the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (thankfully nicknamed ipRGCs).
When your body is exposed to too much or too little light throughout the day (common in most healthcare facilities), then your internal clock – also known as the circadian rhythm – can get knocked off schedule, resulting in sleep disturbances which can carry a whole host of mood disorders with them.
To combat these detrimental effects, some geriatric care centers are creating a dynamic lighting schedule that not only provides more light to stimulate the ipRGCs of the elderly, but also that change brighten and dim throughout the day to cater to a healthy circadian rhythm. The results are less sleep disturbances and happier patients.
The healing power of light
And last but not least is the utilization of LED light to, believe it or not, actually help heal wounds.
No doubt you’ve seen sci-fi films and shows (we’re looking at you Star Trek) where a ship member has a terrible looking gash that nowadays would take months to heal. But in this world, all it takes is the doctor waving what looks to be a flashlight over the injury and, presto, he’s instantly healed!
While we may not be to that point quite yet, it’s true that many health clinics are beginning to use LED therapy to help stimulate your body’s natural healing process. Researchers believe that both red and blue light therapies can help to speed up energy production as well as releasing nitric oxide, thereby speeding up the healing process.
Some dermatologists are even using it to treat skin irregularities like acne, wrinkles, and scars!
Let us know what you think!
Have you ever been treated with phototherapy? What other kinds of amazing treatments will we see ten, twenty, and fifty years from now? Let us know in the comment section below and don’t forget to head over to the Flux Smart product line!
Low-Level Light Therapy: The Bright Future of Medical Technology January 25, 2017 00:00
Rewind a few decades to, let’s say, the 1960s. Businessmen in hats, beautiful and sleek cars, black and white TV. A simpler time.
Imagine you if you were to tell someone from that era that fifty years from then, people would be using light to get more work done throughout the day, combat anxiety, and fight off fatigue. What’s more, what if you told them that the power of light is being used to speed up healing, stave off pain, and make humans physically stronger than before?
What do you think they would say? And how long do you think it would take them to call the looney bin?
True, the rapid progression of technology has led to some pretty amazing changes in the last few decades. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, then, that you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would believe you.
But even more surprising than all the amazing things that we’re discovering light can do for us is the fact that many of these effects were already documented in 1967.
What do you think your friend from the 60s would say to that?
Low-Level Light Therapy: a bit of background
When it comes to the future of medical treatments aimed at eliminating certain kinds of pain, hastening recovery from injury, and even pushing the human body to its physical limits, experts in the field are looking to a new type of prescription called low-level light therapy.
Also going by a slew of other names including low-power laser therapy, cold laser therapy, and bio-stimulation laser therapy, low-level light therapy (LLLT for short) is a form of LED light treatment that uses light on the red end of the spectrum to alter your body’s tissue on a cellular level.
The beneficial effects of low powered light on biological tissue were first documented by the pioneer of laser medicine Endre Mester in 1967. Since then, LLLT has wavered in and out of the acceptance of the scientific community. The growing number of cases where LLLT has proven effective, though, are spurring more researchers to pick up the cause of finally pushing this powerful therapy into the mainstream and, as a result, LLLT has recently seen a resurgence in clinical use.
So how does it work?
Part of its tumultuous past with credibility and the main beef that many scientists have with LLLT stem from the fact that the underlying mechanisms of just how this therapy works are still up for examination.
Some studies have speculated that the beneficial effects of LLLT (which range from pain reduction, wound healing, skin rejuvenation, decreasing muscle fatigue) come from a variety of biochemical processes all centered around the mitochondria. This little cellular structure is basically the powerhouse of each of our individual cells. They take a combination of the food molecules we eat and oxygen molecules we breath and use that combination to create energy which powers our bodies.
When the powerhouses are creating energy for your cells, they also give off a compound called nitric oxide or NO. When enough NO bumps into and sticks to the other compounds in the mitochondria, that makes it difficult for it to absorb oxygen, leading to less energy production. What LLLT does, then, is breaks apart NO from these other chemicals and let the mitochondria breath in that oxygen it needs so badly.
With all that extra energy jumping around inside the cell, it’s better able to handle stress, reduce inflammation, and reproduce.
What kinds of applications are there for LLLT?
Though the potential for this interesting and exciting new form of therapy are just in their early stages of implementation, the beneficial effects of LLLT is are being used in all sorts of areas. Here are just a few fields you can expect to see more LLLT usage in:
- Dermatology: One area that this type of therapy is already widely used in is dermatology. Dermatologists must have seen some of the science on how LLLT can effectively combat acne, vitiligo, and the effects of old age.
- Medicine and Surgery: By encouraging cell reproduction and proliferation, LLLT has been shown to have quite powerful healing effects that might make speed up the treatment of wounds and make recovery from surgery even quicker.
- Professional Athletics: Another exciting benefit to LLLT is its ability to ease exercise-induced skeletal muscle fatigue, thereby increasing muscular endurance!
Let us know what you think!What do you think about this exciting new development in health-based lighting? Have you ever had low-level light therapy and, if so, what did you think? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to drop by the Flux Smart product line!
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