AMA Questions LED Lighting and its Impact on Sleep Rhythms

AMA Questions LED Lighting and its Impact on Sleep Rhythms

LED Lighting has been linked to disturbing sleep rhythms in research conducted earlier but the latest American Medical Association warning on usage of high intensity LED Lighting could push some cities to change their plans about LED lighting installation. LED lightings have gained popularity mainly due to their lower power consumption and stronger illumination. The AMA report said that unseen blue light can disturb sleep pattern for individuals and can even lead to serious health conditions.

High-intensity LED streetlights have been installed over the last few years in many cities across the United States. The latest AMA warning, issued in June, has added credence to the issues related to LED lighting.

As per the Department of Energy data, nearly 13 percent of the area or road lighting is currently served by LED lighting. Many cities and municipalities are considering shifting to LED lighting due to their better efficiency. Compared to high-pressure sodium lights, LED lights last much longer (usually 15-20 years). LED lighting also offers 50 percent more efficiency and illumination spreads evenly. However, health experts suggest that moderate or low intensity LED lighting should be used instead of high intensity LEDs. Solar powered LED lighting has also become popular in the recent years as they run by generating power from solar energy.

The power of LED lighting is measured in color temperature expressed in kelvin (K). The high intensity LED lights usually rank between 4000 – 5000 K. As their light brightly illuminates the ground, motorists in most cities are happy about LED lighting. However, some locals have complained about LED lighting as harsh or even lurid in certain cases.

Earlier research projects have indicated the impact on light pollution on health. A research conducted by a research team at University of Haifa in 2011 informed, “Exposure to the light of white LED bulbs, it turns out, suppresses melatonin 5 times more than exposure to the light of high pressure sodium bulbs that give off an orange-yellow light.”

"White" light bulbs that emit light at shorter wavelengths are greater suppressors of the body's production of melatonin than bulbs emitting orange-yellow light, a new international study has revealed.

Melatonin is a compound that adjusts our biological clock and is known for its anti-oxidant and anti-cancerous properties.

The fact that "white" artificial light (which is actually blue light on the spectrum, emitted at wavelengths of between 440-500 nanometers) suppresses the production of melatonin in the brain's pineal gland is already known. Taking into account the necessity for artificial lighting in cities, as well as the importance of energy-saving bulbs, the research team took as a reference point the level of melatonin suppression by a high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulb, a bulb that gives off orange-yellow light and is often used for street and road lighting, and compared the data from the other bulbs to that one.


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