Bursting the Melatonin Bubble

New Perspectives for Human-Centric Lighting

Dr. Shelley James, Age of Light Innovations

Location: Nassau

March 20, 2024
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm EST

Credits 1 LU | HSW


The sector has focused on melanopsin and blue-enriched lighting for daytime-active people, while melatonin regulation has become a proxy for sleep, health and happiness. New evidence suggests the reality could be more complex and interesting: cones make a significant contribution to non-visual response, while the direct link between melatonin and sleep is under the microscope. Food, temperature, visual comfort, cultural norms, and critically, darkness, are in the spotlight as critical mediators of physical and mental health. I will review research and examples that suggest the need for a more integrated — and ultimately more ‘human-centric’ — approach to lighting.

A basic understanding of the principles of Human-Centric Lighting will be useful but not essential for this presentation.

Learning Objectives

  • Know how the non-visual pathway was discovered and current understanding of the main variables and mechanisms involved in circadian and other neuroendocrine and behavioural responses so that participants can understand the framework for current regulations and standards.
  • Know how new research is challenging established models of non-visual response, with particular reference to the melatonin pathway and its role in circadian entrainment and mood regulation so that participants can interpret lighting standards and regulations more effectively.
  • Know the role of non-visual photic inputs, environmental, genetic and cultural cues in circadian entrainment and mood regulation so that participants can contribute more effectively to sustainable interdisciplinary design solutions.
  • Know how these principles offer a framework for ‘integrative’ lighting design in three key sectors: healthcare, education and social housing so that participants can understand the implications of this understanding for their own practice.


Dr. Shelley James
Dr. Shelley James
Age of Light Innovations

Dr. Shelley James is an international Light and Health Consultant, TEDx Speaker, Author, WELL Light Advisory, Faculty and AP. She is also a trained electrician, glass artist and open-water swimmer.

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