Energy Saved, Sleep Lost: The Unintended Consequences of LED Lighting


by Amber Chase, medium, August 3, 2018

“The widespread use of high-energy visible (HEV) light may have mighty ambitions, but its ubiquity has enormous, unintended, and unforeseen consequences on human health, well-being, and culture. HEV light is not just in the blue light in our screens. It’s rapidly encroaching upon every aspect of our daily lives. Many cities are embracing the new energy savings of LED bulbs by swapping out warmer spectrum street lights for high energy LED lights. While these bulbs might require less power, they also lack the cozy, more human quality of the former lights. And instead of being able to sleep easily at night, people in homes with bedroom windows facing street lights get a dose of HEV at the worst time in the 24 hour cycle. If you’re responsible for building products, give indicators a “night mode” with different colored LEDs or panels, and integrate spectrum filtering covers right into the screens themselves.”

LED lights have become very inexpensive and efficient in terms of power consumption. But a lot of these lights that are being used in street fixtures are of a bluer tint, which can be detrimental to sleep patterns. Blue lights are more effective at calming people, but implementing them in neighborhoods where many people are trying to sleep might not be the best idea when designing a system to work around the clock.