Algorithm Lights the Way to Better Sleep & Productivity

September 15, 2020

By now it’s well established that spending too much time exposed to the blue light of a smartphone or computer screen can affect your ability to sleep. To battle this, there are apps and even glasses that reduce or eliminate the amount of blue light exposure, or slowly reduce the blue light over the course of a day so you can sleep well at night. Now, researchers are looking at ways to extend that knowledge to general light exposure, not just screens.

Researchers from the Department of Electrical Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands are working on creating an algorithm that can calculate the amount of light a person needs at any given moment and adjust the lighting around them to that optimized level. Their theory is based on the fact that humans are biologically programmed to react to light – why not harness that knowledge and use it to improve both attentiveness and sleep quality?

One of the expected uses of the algorithm will be to control lighting for each individual in an office space. By using smartphone and smartwatch data, an app will be able to calculate how much light someone has been exposed to and how the ambient light needs to change to either make them more alert or to allow them to wind down to sleep well, increasing the possibility of higher productivity over time.

The algorithm will also calculate when the user is getting too much light. For example, if they sit near a window, their overhead light may dim to make the overall lighting more conducive to concentrating on the task at hand.

“Knowledge about the influence of light on neurological processes in the brain has been out there for a long time already,” researcher Chara Papatsimpa said. “We are now linking this to smart devices so that it can actually be put to good use.”