Artificial daylight for quicker recovery

​With specially designed lighting sources, the Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen is striking a new direction in the treatment of patients suffering from depression.

The ROOMLIGHT project: Sunshine on a rainy day

The sun always shines on the registrar's office at the Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen. Here, LED lighting has been built into the windowsill. With this lighting, the ROOMLIGHT project will examine the impact of therapeutic lighting.

The team behind ROOMLIGHT hope that the project will show a connection between therapeutic lighting and quicker recovery, shorter admission times and fewer medical treatment needs," said Klaus Martiny, a consultant.

According to Klaus Martiny, the project is "the next step after the well-known light therapy, where the patient sits in front of a light-intensive lamp. In the project, we increase the quantity of light and the combination of colours so the light corresponds to daylight, and we expose patients to this light throughout the day."

Therapeutic lighting: The sunshine effect

"We know for certain that daylight has a positive therapeutic effect on people suffering from depression: light improves mood immediately", stated Klaus Martiny.

He continued: "An increased amount of daylight also makes the patient more awake during the day, improves the patient's sleep and provides a more stable day-night rhythm. The day-night rhythm is a serious problem for patients suffering from depression."

Inspired by daylight

Shortage of daylight is something modern man has to live with. Most people spend their days indoors behind energy-efficient windows which keep out most of the sunlight. Therefore, the people behind the project have taken their inspiration from daylight," said Carlo Volf, an architect and one of the instigators behind the project.

This inspiration is expressed in the combination of colours in the light and in the automatic control. The light automatically turns on at 6 am and turns off again at 6 pm. 

During the day, the light will follow the day-night rhythm with more blue light in the morning and increasingly red as the day progresses. Similarly, light strength and colour will be adapted to the season.

Light in the healthcare sector – room for improvement

Carlo Volf points out that "there is a great development potential in the healthcare sector within this area. Light is often the last thing on your mind when rebuilding or building."

Finally, he hopes "that someone will later be interested in copying this set-up, if we can demonstrate the anticipated effect."

Facts about light

Facts about sunshine in Denmark:

  • Total hours of sunshine: 1,750
  • Hours of sunshine during the winter half-year: about 450
  • Hours of sunshine during the summer half-year: about 1,300
Potential of the ROOMLIGHT project:

  • Total potential: 3,960 hours of artificial sunlight
  • Winter half-year: 1,800 hours
  • Summer half-year: 2,160 hours
Thus the sunshine fixture provides more than twice the total number of hours of sunshine in Denmark – and not least four times the number of hours of sunshine during the winter half-year.

About the project

The project is a collaboration between:

  • The Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen
  • Light experts from the Department of Photonics Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark
  • The private lighting company Chromaviso
The light fitting and light combination have been designed uniquely for this study.

The project comprises two groups of patients: One group is receiving standard treatment, and the treatment of the other group is being supplemented by the special light installed in the wards. 

This will also reduce energy consumption, as LED light uses around 20% less energy than normal energy-saving bulbs. 

ROOMLIGHT is being funded by Elforsk through Public Service Obligation funds and the Research Foundation for Health Research under the Capital Region of Denmark.

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