What lighting is conducive to learning and how does it affect our health?

Well-chosen desk lighting directly affects the effectiveness of studying or working, well-being and our concentration. Although light is an essential element of our everyday life, we rarely realize its fundamental importance. Scientific research confirms that light not only regulates our circadian rhythm, but also shapes our cognitive abilities. For this reason, it is worth investing in lighting carefully tailored to the individual needs of users, including the youngest, which will promote motivation, concentration and relaxation.

What are the health benefits of sunlight?

Natural sunlight has a beneficial effect on us in many aspects – firstly, contact with the sun supports the production of vitamin D in the body, which helps to strengthen immunity, better absorption of calcium and protection against heart diseases. Moreover, this vitamin is important for our well-being because it stimulates the production of serotonin, the happiness hormone.


Secondly, daylight is essential for regulating our body clock and influencing our circadian rhythm. Cells in the retina, especially those sensitive to blue light, influence the area of the brain responsible for our circadian rhythm, which regulates our activity during the day and regeneration at night.

Well-chosen light can increase a student’s ability to focus while studying by up to 10-20%.

Experts point out that exposure to intense light can increase serotonin production in an area of the brain called the hypothalamus.

Moreover, research also shows that intense light also affects other areas of the brain responsible for alertness and concentration. In light of these findings, scientists are wondering how exactly light affects learning processes and the ability to concentrate.

Differences between natural and artificial light

Research on the analysis of brain functions shows that the type of light, especially its spectrum, plays a key role in the interpretation of emotional stimuli. The blue component, dominant in natural light, intensifies our reactions to emotional sound stimuli. Meanwhile, traditional artificial lighting often lacks this ingredient.

It has also been found that sunlight stimulates cognitive abilities, including executive functions, not only in people struggling with sleep deprivation. Moreover, it has been shown that light characterized by short wavelengths, intensity and higher color temperature can lower melatonin levels, increase alertness, reduce the feeling of drowsiness, improve concentration and shorten reaction time.

Additional research has shown that lighting of 500 lux, compared to the typical 300 lux, has a positive effect on reading, writing and math skills, especially in younger students.

It was also established that light with variable intensity and appropriate color temperature (between 4000 K and 17000 K) has a beneficial effect on the health and development of young people, positively influencing their physical development, ability to concentrate and educational achievements.

All this leads to a clear conclusion – properly selected lighting while studying can improve a student’s ability to concentrate by up to 10-20%.

What does “appropriate” lighting mean?

In the debate on this topic, many experts emphasize the advantages of natural light. They recommend that the study area be located as close to a natural light source as possible, preferably near a window. The side of the light incidence should be taken into account, depending on the preferred hand – for right-handed people, the light should fall from the left side, and for left-handed people, it should fall from the right.

Currently, a significant number of young people spend more than 3/4 of the day indoors, which significantly limits their access to natural light. Moreover, due to our geographical location, children work and study in artificial lighting for a significant part of the year. In these circumstances, it is crucial to provide them with a well-lit place to study.

Despite the fondness for the warm light of traditional light bulbs, to stimulate cognitive development it is worth considering light with a cooler shade, similar to natural daylight.

The color of light is measured in units of kelvin (K). A higher kelvin number indicates a cooler shade. For example, the light from the setting sun is approximately 2000 K, which is a warm color. However, sunlight during the day is in the range of 5000-5500 K. Therefore, specialists recommend that artificial light should be in the range of 3300-6500 K.

What is the best light for studying?

The most suitable light for the learning process is light that stimulates brain activity, i.e. light with a value of approximately 6500 K. Therefore, light with a cooler color is preferable, as it promotes concentration and mental clarity. In turn, too warm a color may lead to a feeling of tiredness and drowsiness.

Optimal desk lighting is characterized not only by the right color, but also by the right brightness, which is measured in lumens (lm). Although a higher number of lumens means brighter light, too intense lighting can strain the eyesight and adversely affect the eyes.

The optimal brightness for the student’s space should be around 1000 lumens, which is equivalent to the power of a traditional 75W light bulb.

You should also pay attention to the color of the desk surface: dark colors absorb light, while light colors reflect it. For a darker desk, a light output of approximately 1,500 lumens is recommended, while for a lighter desk, 1,000 lumens will be sufficient.

Another important aspect is the color rendering index (CRI), which is measured in the range from 1 to 100. The higher the value, the more precise the color reproduction of light, which in turn translates into visual comfort. For desk lighting, a CRI of at least 80 is recommended, although a higher value is more desirable.

When to use artificial lighting while studying and performing duties?

Research conducted by Dutch scientists has proven that bright and intense light, which gives energy, is most effective in the morning. It helps students adapt to the rhythm of the day and maintains high concentration. However, as the hours pass, its positive effect weakens.

As the day progresses, it is recommended to gradually reduce the brightness of the light. This is intended to alleviate the feeling of irritation or exhaustion that may result from hard mental work and spending a lot of hours at an educational institution. A softer light intensity is beneficial for developing creative thinking.

Scientists from the Netherlands undertook research on the effects of dynamic lighting in schools, wondering how various light settings, including changes in intensity and color, affect students during classes.

In three independent experiments involving almost 200 primary school students, it was observed that light with an intensity of approximately 600 lux and a color of 4000 K had a positive effect on students’ perception, engagement and mood.
Properly adjusted lighting in classrooms has a positive effect on students’ learning efficiency, concentration and reading fluency. Specialists noticed that in rooms with dynamic lighting systems, over time, students made fewer mistakes in tests and showed less aggressive behavior.

Experts emphasize the importance of proper lighting, especially in the first years of elementary education, when students develop the ability to concentrate.

Which desk lamps to choose?

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