Lux et Dormitas

It’s no great secret that some lights are warmer, colder, more or less pleasant than others. I’ve never been a fan of fluorescent light, for instance. It’s got a sickly cast, and sometimes I feel like I can hear them in my teeth. LED lights strike me as a little harsh.

Anyway, in light of the qualitative differences in light, it should come as no surprise that different types of light could have different effects on things like, say, academic performance. And as it happens, Education Week has an article about just that topic

Schools may soon face an unintended consequence of more flexible technology and more energy-efficient buildings: sleepier students.

That’s because evidence is mounting that use of artificial light from energy-efficient lamps and computer and mobile-electronics screens later and later in the day can lead to significant sleep problems for adults and, particularly, children.

* * * *

“Technology has disconnected us from the natural 24-hour day,” Dr. Czeisler said in a keynote lecture at the Society for Neuroscience meeting held here last month.

The questions are always the same: what is it we are trying to do, and what will best help us do it?

It makes sense that, to the extent we are interested in providing/securing some sort of education, we would structure the physical spaces of our schools in the way that best helps us accomplish our goals (subject, of course, to other competing interests — we wouldn’t, for instance, burn the bones of living human beings just because it provides the nicest light).

But it’s not just about physical spaces. What’s really at issue here are lifestyles and behavior, because ultimately our lighting, our sounds, our spaces — we shape them in order to shape our lifestyles, because it’s there that we find differences in results. This article sounds like it’s about light, but really it’s about getting more sleep.


  1. Ann in L.A. says:

    Older kids–jr. high and up–tend to get many of their assignments in computer-based form. The textbooks are online, the worksheets are online, their writing is with a word processor, etc.

    Our 13 year old is on the computer all evening until the moment she goes to bed. Schools need to start thinking about these things. Unfortunately, they seem to be increasing the amounts of computer-based work, not reducing it.

    • The free utility F.Lux changes the “color temperature” of the Windows display with the time of day, to remove blue light when it would not naturally be present.