Dark Skies: Bright Ideas for Enhancing Outdoor Spaces with Night-Friendly Illumination

Dark Skies: Bright Ideas for Enhancing Outdoor Spaces with Night-Friendly Illumination

Posted on 16-03-2024 by Words & Story: Maria Covlea, Concepts: Chris Hudson

If you've been keeping up with my blog posts or YouTube videos, you already know that I'm very passionate about the Dark Skies movement. This movement aims to reduce the impact of light pollution by minimising unnecessary artificial light at night (ALAN).

Everyone, humans and creatures alike need darkness during the night, whether for restorative sleep or facilitating the nocturnal activities of animals like bats or owls. The rising and setting of the sun trigger our circadian cycle, our internal clock, signalling our bodies when to awaken and when to rest. This natural rhythm is aligned with the cycles of nature and the universe. The circadian cycle is influenced by light and darkness, so when it's light outside, our bodies know it's time to be awake, and when it's dark, they know it's time to sleep.

Exposure to blue or white light after sunset confuses our internal clocks, often resulting in disrupted sleep patterns. This phenomenon isn't limited to humans; animals and plants are also affected. Species such as the monarch butterfly, fireflies, and turtles are particularly vulnerable to these disturbances.

Manufacturers in the lighting industry, together with garden designers and electricians, must assume responsibility and provide our clients with the best guidance. We have to make sure that the lights we fit outdoors are not damaging to our clients or to nature.

I've put together a guide that focuses on how to choose the right light temperature to protect your clients' wellbeing, nature, and the beauty of the night sky.

Understanding Light Warmth

Kelvin (K) is a unit of measurement used to describe the colour temperature of light. When it comes to light warmth, lower Kelvin values represent warmer, more yellowish light, while higher Kelvin values represent cooler, bluish light.

Avoid Cool White Light (5000K - 6500K)

A light of 5000K to 6500K mimics daylight, when on, it banishes the darkness of the night, transforming it into an artificial imitation of daytime. We need darkness at night; seeing bright artificial light in the evening can be damaging to our sleep, even if it's for a short time. Animals suffer greatly from this type of light, as it can confuse them to the point of starvation or death. If you are part of the outdoor lighting industry, please refrain from recommending or installing this type of lighting.

Opt for Warmer Tones (3000K - 1800K)

A 3000K light is a warm white light, but it's still quite high on the Kelvin count, so ideally, we will shift towards 2200K lights which are a bit warmer, resembling a sunset glow.

The best light is 1800K; this is the warmest of the white colours, a personal favourite of mine. It's much more nightlife-friendly, peaceful and has a significantly lower impact on wildlife or circadian cycles.

Consider Red Light

Utilised in marine navigation, this light sustains nighttime visibility without causing harm to the environment. We do recommend using this for outdoor lighting whenever feasible.

Make the Right Choice or Recommendation

If you are a garden designer looking to make recommendations to a client for outdoor lighting or an individual looking for inspiration, think dark skies first and choose to illuminate your garden or other outdoor spaces with a light that is less than 3000K; let's live in harmony with nature.

If you would like to hear more about the range of lighting available at our shop, please contact us today.

Contact us for expert lighting solutions 020 8108 0336

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