There are different classroom lighting types, but did you know it has a measurable difference in how students learn? Fluorescent lights are trendy in most schools, offices, and other commercial spaces, but this is not the best type of lighting to promote learning. It can harm learning.
Research studies have shown that fluorescent lighting can cause headaches and migraines, increase anxiety, decrease concentration, and instill an overall sense of discomfort after long-term exposure. That’s just the beginning. Let’s look at some of the details behind why fluorescent lighting can be harmful and what you can do to help fix it to promote positive learning in children. This will benefit everyone in the schools – teacher and student alike!
Though a teacher may not choose what lighting is used in schools, you can arm yourself with the information you need to make a great case at your schools. What else is there for a teacher to do but inform others? Let’s look at how lighting makes a difference at your school and what you can do to foster a stronger learning environment.
Does Classroom Lighting Affect Learning?
The short answer is yes. The human body is not created to be under artificial lights and craves natural lighting when it can get it. Thus, if students are only exposed to fluorescent lighting, they may face problems with focusing, anxiety, and more when at school. Fluorescent bulbs negatively impact our natural circadian rhythms, leading to sleep problems. Students who are not well-rested will face many attention issues because they do not feel awake during the day. All of these factors impact learning performance, reading, productivity, and more in your school.
While there are strategies that you can employ to help combat this in your classrooms, providing even limited exposure to daylight, full-spectrum light, or blue light like LED lights can help improve your learning environment, providing measurable results in your class’s test scores and more.
What is the Impact of Fluorescent Lighting?
We all are familiar with the traditional, bright white ceiling lights. They are in our offices, our shopping centers, our classrooms, and even in some cases, our homes. That’s because fluorescent lighting is cheap, provides good energy efficiency, and is easy to install in any room. But just because it doesn’t take a lot of time to install doesn’t mean it’s a good solution for your work.
In fact, it may be harming your health and the health of your students. Research studies have reported that it can cause migraines, headaches, eye strain, sleep problems, stress, anxiety, and more. The body prefers to be under natural light sunlight, and when it’s not, you may notice an impact on student behavior.
What Type of Lighting is Better than Fluorescent Lights?
Not all teachers have a choice of what light to use in their classroom, but if you can choose the type of lighting, you should get something that is full-spectrum or blue light. This includes LED lighting. This type of classroom lighting is a better alternative than fluorescent lights for many reasons. The lights are energy efficient, so they won’t affect your bottom line. LED lights produce little to no UV radiation, which is better for your skin and your eyes. They don’t flicker, meaning those glare headaches and migraines, eye strain, and sleep problems will be a thing of the past. These lights don’t contain mercury, so there isn’t any risk of exposure to this harmful substance either.
LED lighting is just one option, but if you are using blue lights, make sure that you don’t overexpose your students to that type of classroom lighting. Since children spend a lot of time in front of screens these days, too much blue light can be just as harmful.
What is the Recommended Light Levels Lux for a Classroom?
Different areas of your classroom should have different levels of luminance or lux. For example, the front of the classroom near the board should be brighter, while you can dim the lamps in other areas to help reduce exposure to harsh lighting. To promote ideal conditions in your classroom, consider using a minimum of 150 lux. Wall lighting should be more than 75 lux, while ceiling lux should be more than 50 lux. The levels depend on where your light is, but between 150 and 300 lux will be a great solution.
How to Mimic Natural Light in Classroom Lighting?
If you can use natural lighting in your classroom, this is preferred – though you may need shades! Even a mix of natural lightings, like windows and artificial lighting will help your classroom more than pure fluorescent lights. If you don’t have access to sunlight because you may be on the basement floor or in the middle of a building, you can design strategies to get around the nasty fluorescent light in your classroom lighting.
There are light filters that will reduce the negative impact of fluorescent light by disbursing light rays in your classroom. Students in your classrooms will notice the improved performance when you fit these over the bulbs and panels. They can be purchased from Amazon and other retailers. They come in a different color or a different design, helping you shift your room’s mood when you are changing around these filters.
Choose the Best Classroom Lighting for your Students
Teachers have a lot to consider for the classrooms, so lighting may not be top of the light. However, it is an essential aspect of your classrooms and your schools. Proper lighting is beneficial, playing an important role that will improve learning for years to come. If you don’t know what kind of lighting you have in your school, check the bulbs. You will see an indicator that notes what lighting you have in your school.
The harsh white color can lower mood, decrease sleep, cause focus problems, and more. This isn’t just in students – it’s teachers too, anyone in the school building.
You may not choose the lighting, but you can help make it a positive experience for everyone involved.