The Circadian Cycle

The Circadian Cycle Effect on People in the Workplace

The Circadian Cycle – or rhythm – is our body’s built-in clock which syncs our everyday behaviour with our biological processes. Roughly a 24-hour process, it helps to make us feel alert and lively during working hours and sleepy at night-time.

Light plays a significant role not only in how we see the world around us but in how our body functions, affecting our daily sleep-wake cycle and impacting on our general health and wellbeing. Getting an unbalanced amount of light throughout the course of the day can affect our energy levels, mental health, and weight levels. It has even been linked to long-term illnesses such as dementia and diabetes.

The circadian cycle in humans is controlled by a section of the hypothalamus in your brain. It is, however, simultaneously affected by outside factors such as light – as previously mentioned – and temperature.

Your personal circadian rhythm is at optimum levels when you have regular sleep habits; it’s best to go to bed and get up at the same time every day whilst maintaining good sleep hygiene and a calm and comfortable bedroom environment.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • How a disrupted circadian rhythm might affect someone
  • How lighting affects the circadian rhythm
  • Circadian rhythm and LED lighting, and how one size doesn’t fit all
  • Circadian lighting and how Airius can help you

How does a disrupted circadian rhythm affect people?

Have you noticed how tired and irritable you can be when you aren’t in a good sleep routine? If you’ve ever experienced jetlag, you will know how under the weather you feel until you’re back into normal waking hours.

It’s normal for your circadian rhythm to be disrupted from time to time however prolonged turmoil can have serious negative implications on your general health.

Good quality sleep keeps your immune system in top condition. Without sufficient quantities of rest, usually up to 8 hours a night, your body will make fewer cytokines – which are a type of protein that assists in combating inflammation and infection.

A disrupted circadian rhythm is sure to affect your waking and working life. An interrupted sleep pattern is likely to result in:

  • Regular headaches
  • Poor concentration
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep
  • Nonrestorative sleep
  • Impaired performance and decreased cognitive skills
  • Gastrointestinal upset

How does lighting affect the circadian cycle?

At a foundational level, lighting affects the human circadian cycle in relation to night and day. We have ‘built-in clocks’ which are affected by light and dark respectively. Therefore, by ensuring we are keeping a regular routine of being both in the light and the dark at the relevant times we are keeping this in check.

There are two key effects of light on the circadian cycle. The first is the acute suppression of melatonin (the hormone that regulates the sleep/wake cycle) and the second is ability that light has to shift the circadian cycle. It has been proven that the amount of light exposure during the day has a direct influence on the duration and quality of sleep. Extending light exposure during the day by one hour has been shown to increase sleep time by 30 minutes.

Our circadian cycle works in conjunction with the 24-hour day our solar system has created. In the modern day, invention of artificial lighting has considerably altered our environment and subsequently our natural reaction to light. With the introduction of light available during the evenings and at night, there is significant scope for misalignment of the rhythm.

On one hand, this can allow for sleep-wake disorders as previously discussed, however artificial lighting can also be used as an effective therapy to treat disorders noninvasively with little reported side effects.

Circadian rhythm and LED lights in your building

Although in-depth research into the physiological effects of light on the brain and body is still at a relatively early stage, effective lighting design can have a positive impact on a user’s comfort levels and sense of well-being, whether at home or in the workplace.

Human-centric lighting, or circadian lighting, uses modern LED lighting solutions to improve and enhance daily life. There are a variety of innovative techniques stemming from cutting-edge research into human behaviour; all of which can be tailor-made to suit your home or business for maximum positive impact.

Considering we spend so much of our daily lives indoors, lighting is a key part of optimising the places where we live and work. By helping to create a pleasant and productive working environment, or a warm and relaxing home, we can boost well-being and productivity.

Expertly designed lighting systems are particularly important for buildings that operate on a 24/7 schedule, such as warehouses, distribution centres, petrol stations, larger supermarkets, care homes and hospitals.

One of the main problems with the use of traditional incandescent or strip lighting during the daytime is that they don’t provide enough energy to actively support human physiology. Furthermore, at night-time they produce too much energy, causing us to feel over-stimulated when we should be winding down to go to sleep.

Circadian cycle lighting: one size doesn’t fit all

While most people living a normal 9-5 existence will have a similar circadian rhythm in sync with the natural daylight cycle, each person’s circadian cycle is unique and it can start and stop at different times based on our individual physiological makeup and typical daily routine.

It’s impossible to know the full details of someone’s circadian clock without understanding the physiological traits of that specific person and actively measuring things such as their melatonin levels which are general at their highest during the circadian night, and physical activity which, according to research, is more beneficial to our health when carried out during the circadian daytime.

As such, rather than being fully autonomous, there is increasing emphasis on user-controlled lighting systems, whereby workers and residents can choose the type of lighting that suits them at any particular time of day or night.

Using smart devices – including mobile phone apps, tablets and wearable health sensors – you’re able to program your preferences to remember your preferences which will then naturally alter lighting levels throughout the course of the day.

Circadian lighting and Airius

At Airius, we’ve spent years researching and developing our innovative products to provide intelligent and effective lighting solutions that are in tune with the complex demands of the human body as well as the practicalities of daily life.

Some of the many additional benefits of our market-leading LED lighting technology include:

  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions
  • Longer lasting than traditional light bulbs
  • Low amounts of heat wastage
  • Can be controlled remotely
  • Cost less to run than traditional light bulbs
  • Produce more effective light distribution
  • More energy efficient

Whether it’s:

  • developing tuneable, solid-state LEDs which can change colour and temperature depending on the amount of natural light flowing through a building
  • providing creative commercial lighting used to illuminate surfaces more efficiently or
  • enabling users to intelligently control their interior and exterior lighting depending on their mood via smart technology

…Airius is at the forefront of the LED lighting revolution.


As humans living in the modern age, it’s difficult to maintain a natural sleep pattern with so many potential disturbances. The circadian cycle is an integral element of our health and wellbeing, so it’s only natural we should want to protect and strengthen it.

Lighting places a central role in our day-to-day living, so it’s important we utilise it well. LED lighting, when used correctly, optimises our experience of the 24-hour day to night cycle.

The health benefits have been proven, and with the advances in modern technology and lighting available to us today, it makes sense to employ them.

How can I find out more about LED lighting and its impact on my circadian cycle?

If you would like some further information about how LEDs can affect the body’s circadian cycle and the many health benefits that come from LED-based workplace lighting, please get in touch. You can contact us on 01202 554 200 or send us an email at