Light is Good for our Brains (Ten ways to use brain based research in training #8)

The amount of natural light you see in a day affects your thinking skills. Anyone who’s experienced the last summer and winter in the UK will intuitively know how much our mood is affected by light; the change of clocks this week and some welcome sunshine has made most of us feel more cheerful. But light intensity also has an impact on our thinking abilities, particularly for tasks when we need to pay close attention.
An article published in Behavioural Neuroscience details an experiment which measured the impact of light on people’s feelings of alertness, their hormones and their results on various memory tests.

They tested young people who had been in natural light and artificial light on various memory tests and also asked them how sleepy they felt. After being in natural light the people said they felt more alert and got higher scores on memory tests. This was more significant on the 2nd day of having the different light conditions. It appears that even short term lighting conditions has an impact on how well people perform later. The experiment showed that the results on the tests and the feelings of sleepiness weren’t due to natural changes in hormone levels.  There is some discussion in the article about tasks requiring high levels of attention possibly being even more sensitive to the effects of light earlier in the day.

So, if you want people to think better or do something that requires close attention you might be advised to make sure they spend at least some time in natural daylight or at least in lighting that closely resembles natural daylight.

The tests in this experiment were mainly memory tests so it’s likely that levels of lighting are also important for our learning environments. 

If you’re a trainer choose a room that has natural daylight, encourage people to go outside for exercises and discussions or at least at break times. If you have any influence on the design of rooms encourage the use of ‘daylight’ bulbs.

You’ve just got a few weeks left to book your place at on 22nd April and find out what else you can do as a trainer to stimulate brains to learn better.