The Nonvisual Effect of Natural Lighting

Living reference work entry


The electromagnetic spectrum within the waveband (~380–780 nm) is defined as light mainly for visual sensation. In addition, the designs of natural light and artificial light are both primarily on basis of the visual demands of occupants. Thus, the minimized constant lighting level is regulated within design standards considering the health risk from radiation. However, people prefer a natural light cycle than a constant one, and the effect of lighting extends much further by recent photobiology researches. The discoveries of the third photoreceptor cell on retina and its neural pathway, which primarily relate to circadian system, indicate that lighting has a significant nonvisual effect on health, mood, and productivity. Besides, it strongly suggests that the lighting demand of nonvisual effect is very different from that of the visual one, and artificial lighting is not an appropriate means to satisfy the nonvision system. Nevertheless, daylighting is capable to stimulate both the visual and the nonvisual systems.

To investigate the daylighting environment of Chinese buildings, this paper assessed the nonvisual effect of different design levels in Chinese daylighting design standard (GB/T 50033-2013). As for the evaluation method, the constant relation between vertical illuminance and horizontal illuminance was used to convert the maintained horizontal illuminance of different design levels to the illuminance which reached the eyes (vertical illuminance). Then the nonvisual effect could be calculated by a dose-response function between the nonvisual effect and the illuminance at eyes. Moreover, this function was proposed on basis of the static researches of threshold values which only considered spectrum and intensity. The nonvisual effect of the design levels I-V was respectively 100%, 100%, 71%–100%, 38%–60%, and 5%–16% with the ratio of vertical illuminance to horizontal illuminance varying from 1.5 to 2.0. Since the design standard adopted the overcast sky conditions based on the worst principle, the daylighting of levels I–III was adequate in the major rooms of public buildings where most occupational people stayed during the day considering the actual illuminance which was higher under normal sky conditions. However, if there was a consideration that the aged people who often stayed at home and needed much higher illuminance with the degradation of eye function, the level IV of the daylighting for major residential rooms should be improved. Besides, although the daylighting of level V was extremely low, its effect might be ignored as the short dwell time in transition space. What is more, a field measurement was conducted to validate the evaluation results in a typical room which adopted the design level of III, which demonstrated that the average nonvisual effect of a room in the field measurement was in accordance with the evaluation results mentioned before.


Natural lighting Nonvisual effect Circadian physiology Melatonin Daylighting design Evaluation method Vertical illuminance 


  1. 1.
    Begemann SHA, Beld GVD, Tenner AD (1997) Daylight, artificial light and people in an office environment, overview of visual and biological responses. Int J Ind Ergon 20(3):231–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Refinetti R (2006) Circadian physiology, 2nd edn. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Berson DM, Dunn FA, Takao M (2002) Phototransduction by retinal ganglion cells that set the circadian clock. Science 295(5557):1070–1073CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Yasukouchi A, Ishibashi K (2005) Non visual effects of the color temperature of fluorescent lamp on physiological aspects in humans. J Physiol Anthropol Appl Hum Sci 24(1):41–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bommel WV, Beld GVD (2004) Lighting for work: a review of visual and biological effects. Light Res Technol 36(4):255–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Wyse CA, Coogan AN, Selman C et al (2010) Association between mammalian lifespan and circadian free-running period: the circadian resonance hypothesis revisited. Biol Lett 6(5):696–698CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Koller M (1983) Health risks related to shift work. An example of time-contingent effects of long-term stress. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 53(1):59–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    van Bommel WJM (2006) Non-visual biological effect of lighting and the practical meaning for lighting for work. Appl Ergon 37(4):461–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Boyce PR (2010) Review: the impact of light in buildings on human health. Indoor Built Environ 19(1):8–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    van Hoof J, Aarts MPJ, Rense CG et al (2009) Ambient bright light in dementia: effects on behaviour and circadian rhythmicity. Build Environ 44(1):146–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Wolk R, Gami AS, Garcia-Touchard A et al (2005) Sleep and cardiovascular disease. Curr Probl Cardiol 30(12):625–662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Stevens RG (1987) Electric power use and breast cancer: a hypothesis. Am J Epidemiol 125(4):556–561CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gibson EM, Williams WP III, Kriegsfeld LJ (2009) Aging in the circadian system: considerations for health, disease prevention and longevity. Exp Gerontol 44(1–2):51–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Park N, Cheon S, Son GH et al (2012) Chronic circadian disturbance by a shortened light-dark cycle increases mortality. Neurobiol Aging 33(6):1111–1122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Boyce PR, Beckstead JW, Eklund NH et al (1997) Lighting the graveyard-shift: the influence of a daylight simulating skylight on the task performance and mood of night-shift workers. Light Res Technol 8(29):105–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kuller R (1993) Melatonin, cortisol, EEG, ECG and subjective comfort in healthy humans: impact of two fluorescent lamp types at two light intensities. Light Res Technol 25(2):71–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Van Bommel WJM, van den Beld GJ, van Ooyen MHF (2002) Industrielle Beleuchtung und Produktivitat. Licht 2002. Tagung, MaastrichtGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Andersen M, Mardaljevic J, Lockley SW (2012) A framework for predicting the non-visual effects of daylight-Part I: photobiology-based model. Light Res Technol 44(1):37–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hebert M, Martin SK, Lee C et al (2002) The effects of prior light history on the suppression of melatonin by light in humans. J Pineal Res 33(4):198–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Smith KA, Schoen MW, Czeisler CA (2004) Adaptation of human pineal melatonin suppression by recent photic history. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 89(7):3610–3614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Brainard GC (2002) Photoreception for regulation of melatonin and the circadian system in humans. In: Proceedings of the fifth international LRO lighting research symposium, OrlandoGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Gronfier C, Wright KJ, Kronauer RE et al (2004) Efficacy of a single sequence of intermittent bright light pulses for delaying circadian phase in humans. Am J Physiol-Endocrinol Metab 287(1):E174–E181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Kozakov R, Franke S, Schöpp H (2008) Approach to an effective biological spectrum of a light source. Leukos 4(4):255–263Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Thapan K, Arendt J, Skene DJ (2001) An action spectrum for melatonin suppression: evidence for a novel non-rod, non-cone photoreceptor system in humans. J Physiol 535(Pt 1):261–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Bellia L, Bisegna F (2013) From radiometry to circadian photometry: a theoretical approach. Build Environ 62(4):63–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Czeisler CA, Duffy JF, Shanahan TL et al (1999) Stability, precision, and near-24-hour period of the human circadian pacemaker. Science 284(5423):2177–2181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Duffy JF, Cain SW, Chang AM et al (2011) Sex difference in the near-24-hour intrinsic period of the human circadian timing system. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108(Suppl 3):15602–15608CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Rea MS, Figueiro MG, Bullough JD et al (2005) A model of phototransduction by the human circadian system. Brain Res Rev 50(2):213–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Figueiro MG, Rea MS, Bullough JD (2006) Does architectural lighting contribute to breast cancer? J Carcinogen 5(1):20–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Cajochen C, Zeitzer JM, Czeisler CA et al (2000) Dose-response relationship for light intensity and ocular and electroencephalographic correlates of human alertness. Behav Brain Res 115(1):75–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ruger M, Gordijn MC, Beersma DG et al (2006) Time-of-day-dependent effects of bright light exposure on human psychophysiology: comparison of daytime and nighttime exposure. Am J Physiol 290(5):R1413–R1420Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Phipps-Nelson J, Redman JR, Dijk DJ et al (2003) Daytime exposure to bright light, as compared to dim light, decreases sleepiness and improves psychomotor vigilance performance. Sleep 26(6):695–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Chang AM, Santhi N, St HM et al (2012) Human responses to bright light of different durations. J Physiol 590(13):3103–3112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Figueiro MG (2008) A proposed 24h lighting scheme for older adults. Light Res Technol 40(2):153–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Bellia L, Bisegna F, Spada G (2011) Lighting in indoor environments: visual and non-visual effects of light sources with different spectral power distributions. Build Environ 46(10):1984–1992CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Yao Q, Ju J, Cheng W et al (2008) Discussion on the visual and non-visual biological effect of different light sources. China Illum Eng J 19(2):14–19Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Rea MS, Figueiro MG, Bullough JD (2002) Circadian photobiology: an emerging framework for lighting practice and research. Light Res Technol 34(3):177–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Kosir M, Krainer A, Dovjak M et al (2011) Automatically controlled daylighting for visual and non-visual effects. Light Res Technol 43(4):439–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Bellia L, Pedace A, Barbato G (2013) Lighting in educational environments: an example of a complete analysis of the effects of daylight and electric light on occupants. Build Environ 68(2–3):50–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Brainard GC, Hanifin JP, Greeson JM et al (2001) Action spectrum for melatonin regulation in humans: Evidence for a novel circadian photoreceptor. J Neurosci 21(16):6405–6412Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    MOHURD, AQSIQ (2013) Standard for daylighting design of buildings: GB/T 50033-2013. Standard, China Architecture and Building Press, Beijing. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Reinhart CF, Loverso VRM (2010) A rules of thumb-based design sequence for diffuse daylight. Light Res Technol 42(1):7–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Civil EngineeringDalian University of TechnologyDalianChina

Section editors and affiliations

  • Hua Qian
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Energy and EnvironmentSoutheast UniversityNanjingChina

Personalised recommendations