When we design for health and wellness, we want what we create to be usable, relevant, and to improve the lives of others. We are responsible for creating a bridge between disciplines, and then making it accessible to all. Our choices as designers can either enhance or unfortunately, defeat the purposes of something that was meant to be helpful.
Scientists are familiar with how different kinds of light affect circadian rhythms (the internal clock in mammals). A recently published study found that the changes in color, not just changes in light, are necessary to regulate this internal clock. This study’s authors believe that their data “reveal a new sensory mechanism for estimating time of day that should be available to all mammals capable of chromatic vision, including humans”. Looks like a sunset is more than just beautiful!
When a hotel chain wanted to decide what color to use in their rooms to promote a better night’s rest they surveyed 2,000 households and came up with a clear winner—blue, with warm tones like certain shades of yellow coming in second place. And what about images we choose? Brainstorming sessions? Sure. But we can dig a little deeper. Sleep experts discourage clock-watching and even suggest turning the clock’s face away from us when we want to fall asleep. That’s a strong hint about some imagery we’d want to avoid using!
Our responsibilities as designers continue to grow. We understand just how much design has evolved to better reflect and influence the human experience. By leveraging science and empathy to understand the mind and body we can design in a way that truly touches humans to achieve a positive outcome in health and wellness.