3 ways lighting can impact student productivity

Light can have a dramatic effect on our mood, concentration, energy and more. Learn how your school’s lighting can impact student productivity in our blog.

Published: February 26, 2020

Most teachers and students spend the majority of their week in an indoor space with the lights on. But, how does being in an environment that uses artificial light affect us? This is probably something that we give little thought to, but lighting can actually have a significant impact on our mood, energy levels and concentration.

This article takes a closer look at how the choice of lighting in schools could affect both staff and students, and the important role that lighting plays in the learning environment.

Why does lighting matter?

Lighting is more than just a tool that allows us to see in dim or dark conditions, it also influences us both biologically and psychologically.

Lighting can have a positive or negative impact on our sleep, well-being, mood, energy levels, alertness, cognitive abilities and productivity.

The “colour temperature” of light has a particularly significant effect on people. Some studies indicate that bright light can intensify emotions, while low light can help to keep them steady.

Warm lights (with yellow tones) can help to make an environment more calming and inviting. Cooler light (with blue tones) can make a space more stimulating – causing us to feel more focused and awake.

So, whilst warm lighting may be just what’s needed in some settings (like a cosy restaurant, for example) it’s unlikely to be the best choice for a learning environment where students need to be alert and productive.

How does lighting impact student productivity?

Your school’s choice of lighting can affect how on-task your students are. The main areas this is felt in are:

1) Concentration

Have you been in an office or classroom with an irritating flickering fluorescent light overhead? Most of us have experienced this at some stage and it can be very distracting! A 2009 study of 90 schools showed that “an imperceptible 100Hz flicker from fluorescent lighting” in classrooms can lead to discomfort and impair visual performance. Not only is this flickering annoying, but it can also lead to headaches and a feeling of tiredness.

LED lighting eliminates these issues commonly experienced with traditional lighting sources, making the learning environment more comfortable and improving student productivity as a result.

2) Alertness

It’s widely accepted that blue light reduces our level of melatonin (a hormone related to sleep), making us feel more awake. Mobile phone screens and computers emit a lot of blue light, which is why you should avoid using these devices before bedtime. But when you introduce blue light into an environment where concentration matters – such as an office, factory or learning space – then this has obvious benefits.

LEDs contain relatively high levels of blue light – more than traditional fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. As a result, they can help keep kids more awake and engaged in their learning.

3) Improved learning conditions

As well as eliminating humming and flickering, LEDs can also provide better levels of light in your classroom, making it easier for students to read.

Glare can from lighting is another factor that can affect student productivity and well-being (particularly when using computers). The Unified Glare Rating (UGR) ranks glare on a scale of 5-40, with 5 indicating the least glare. A light source with a UGR of 10 will not create a noticeable glare, whereas a rating of 30 or more is likely to be extremely distracting. Schools should aim for lighting with a UGR of 19 or less to ensure a comfortable environment for teachers and students.

These are some of the most compelling reasons why switching to LED lighting has the potential to boost student productivity. There are many others, including substantial cost savings! Advances in LED technology, including ‘dynamic’ LED lighting, will also make it even easier to tailor lighting to match specific classroom activities in the future.

Do you want to discuss LED lighting options for your school? Talk to our knowledgeable team.