I cannot say if it’s my age, the oxymoronic daylight savings punishment, or cumulative fatigue, but this winter, more than any I can remember, the moment the sky goes just dark enough for Ma’ariv, about 5:02, I am completely wiped out. Not just like ‘I need a coffee or a power-nap and then get back out there’ tired; I mean like ‘give me a hoody sweatshirt, a massive plate of nachos, and a re-run of SuperBowl XXXII’ tired. (Yes, that’s the one the Broncos triumphantly defeated the Packers). Where did all my energy of the summer go? When the earliest Ma’ariv is 8:15 and I’m running in there still fired up, 12 hours after having begun work with little or no break? How come things are so different now?
There are many, many factors, but the most obvious is the light itself. Few things in the world trigger our circadian rhythms the way sunlight does. Our whole nervous system is synchronized with the sun and while sunrise springs us into action, sunset signals the sudden and inexplicable need for hoodies and nachos, or some version of the two. And while artificial light can offset this rhythm, it seems futile to disregard it altogether.
In these dark days of winter, to make the most of the limited amount of productive daytime, lighting becomes more important than ever. Not only for extending our day’s work beyond the early sunset, but even the relatively weak daylight, and even our moods, can be improved with a lighting upgrade. A 20% increase in the lighting quality of a warehouse, school classroom, Yeshiva, or office can quantitatively increase productivity and conversely weak lighting can drastically reduce the productivity. Many studies prove this, and a simple Google search is sufficient to find such studies; but anyone who has tended to the management of employees or students knows what a change in lighting can do to brighten a room, and more amazingly, the moods of the people using the room.
I have written several articles about LED lighting and the commercial retrofitting I have been involved with. I have written about their super long life-span and savings, their non-toxic composition, their high CRI rating, and other measurable ways LED is far superior to conventional fluorescent lights. But it has occurred to me that perhaps the greatest benefit of an LED conversion lies in the subtle, yet crucial, improvement to the overall working environment. A well-lit store is one in which people feel comfortable and enjoy spending time. A well-lit Yeshiva or classroom is one where students fall asleep less and eye-strain isn’t yet another obstacle to learning. A well-lit office is one people don’t feel like they have to get out of every hour for a five-minute dose of sunshine. Any of these places, when lit properly, will maintain a “light” atmosphere and be less affected by the outside transition from day to night, which is essential for productivity when that night time transition comes on so early.
So before analyzing why employees are always running outside, or students can’t keep their eyes open, or customers don’t linger in the store longer, make an assessment of your lighting. While these scenarios are complex in their causes, and so too their solutions, a properly lit environment enables people to feel more comfortable and thus less distracted from their tasks. It’s not the full solution, otherwise it wouldn’t be such a common problem, but it is surely an essential part of the solution, as happy customers/workers/students actually perform much better than when they are not happy and motivated solely by external rewards such as raises in salary or the promise of a good sale, or threats such as losing one’s job or failing a test.
Jerry Seinfeld once quipped that if we were a type of car he would never buy it, as there seems to be no end to the maintenance we require: teeth, nails, washing, food, eight hours of sleep, temperature sensitivities, and now lighting sensitivities. So I would argue and say that our needs are not a sign of inferior quality; rather they are a sign of sophistication. Each of us is a Rolls Royce and as no owner of one would ever consider using generic oil, so too our needs are sophisticated, and yes, plenty of sleep, proper hygiene, a balanced diet, and even quality lighting are needed if we want to get the best performance out of our students, our workers, and even ourselves.
It’s probably worthwhile to include here a line about what you sell- something along the lines of (this is just an idea!)
Ari Katz is an expert LED light supplier. Working directly with a manufacturer, he specializes in commercial, heavy-use lighting, his lights have been used in more than 50 stores, Yeshivas, Seminaries, and private homes. To see how your office or institution can benefit from switching to LED lighting, call Ari for a free consultation and savings