A new lighting system that allows facility operators to customize blue light exposure in a single building promotes better sleep and wakefulness, according to developers from a public-private research initiative backed by the Australian government.

Blue light has been shown to boost alertness and cognitive function, and to elevate mood. It has also been shown to inhibit melatonin, a chemical that is released naturally when sleep is needed. Facility operators can program the BioGen range of LED lighting products to regulate the amount of blue light emitted. This may help regulate circadian rhythms, benefitting facility staff and the people they serve, reported Sean Cain, Ph.D., and investigators from the nation’s Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity. 

For example, hospital nursing staff may need more exposure to blue light to stay alert, while less exposure is optimal for patients who are ready to sleep. The new products “facilitate both outcomes,” unlike standard commercial and industrial lighting systems, the team claims.

“High dosages of electric light at night can be very confusing for the body clock and lead to disrupted sleep that over time affects people’s health and mood,” Cain said. “That’s partly why many long-term shift workers experience health issues.”

The products are the result of a two-year effort by Australian lighting company Versalux Lighting Systems and Monash University.

BioGen lighting products will be unveiled commercially in Australia this week.