SYDNEY, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Australian researchers have developed a lighting system which they say can improve people's sleep quality, alertness and productivity, simply by varying the amount of blue light they are subjected to.
The system can be installed in buildings such as hospitals which function at night, to increase blue light in some areas and reduce it in others as required.
According to the researchers, even light which we can not visually perceive can have a huge impact on our internal body clocks.
The system is the result of a two-year collaboration between the Cooperative Research Center for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC) and Monash University.
Neuroscientist and circadian rhythms expert Associate Professor Sean Cain from the Alertness CRC said that blue light - such as that emitted from electrical devices including smartphones and tablets, has the most radical effects on the body's natural circadian rhythms.
"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. That's partly why many long-term shift workers experience health issues," Cain said.
"At the same time, we need people to be alert at work, particularly when they are operating in safety critical roles ... so that's when exposure to more blue light becomes important."
To achieve this balance, Alertness CRC partnered with Australian company Versalux to create a system of LEDs, called BIOGEN, which can be programmed to vary blue light content across building environments.
The creators said the system could have a huge impact for a range of industries, including hospitals where in some instances nurses need to remain awake and alert, while patients need to be able to achieve quality sleep.
Joint Managing Director of Versalux Bruno Campisi said it was just as important to consider the "human factors" of lighting as it was the visual effects.
"We believe this research will help to create new guidelines and standards for the lighting industry that will become the norm so that more people ... can achieve better health and well-being," Campisi said.