Effect of multicolor lighting on improving the psychological state of astronauts

(ORDO NEWS) — With missions to explore deep space and create space habitats on the agenda, astronauts must endure numerous stressful tests in confined and isolated environments during such long-duration missions.

This is especially important because, in deep space exploration, problems such as signal delays cause astronauts to experience distance anxiety and psychological fear of deep space.

According to a number of recent experiments on Earth and during ongoing space missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS), NASA believes monotony of vision, in particular, exacerbates crew anxiety, irritability and depression.

Moreover, a large number of studies have also shown that crew members on long missions at the Antarctic Space Simulation Station are extremely susceptible to psychological problems caused by visual monotony and monochromatic colors.

Ao Jiang of the European Space Agency conducted a study to test whether multi-color lighting can improve the psychological well-being of people in an isolated and enclosed environment for seven days.

First, the author prepared the necessary materials and methods. Twenty healthy participants (10 males and 10 females, all of Chinese ethnicity, mostly between 21 and 27 years old) were selected from Hong Kong University.

Twenty isolated rooms of Hong Kong Central Hospital were used, 3.5 meters long, 3 meters wide and 2.2 meters high. Each room had a chair and a table, a bed and a bedside table. The walls and ceiling were painted white, and the floor was dark grey.

These were the two primary colors, with the exception of the door, chair, table, and chest of drawers, which were painted light wood.

Neutral colors were used in order to reduce the influence of the room on the colors that will be used in the experiment.

In addition, wireless dynamic light bulbs with 16 million colors were chosen to project colored light into rooms with multi-color lighting.

A multi-colored lamp was placed in the middle area between the desk and the bed in the isolation room to ensure participants were exposed to multi-colored lighting in most daily activities.

Twenty participants were randomly divided into two groups: one group, which was exposed to multi-color lighting, and a control group, which was exposed to a static, monotonous white interior.

In the multi-color lighting group, from 8 am to 10 pm, the color of the multi-color lighting was randomly changed every three hours every day.

Each participant entered a separate isolated room. During the lockdown, participants were not allowed to use any media such as mobile phones, computers, TVs or tablets.

But they could read paper books, do yoga and other activities.

Results from the control group showed that participants’ negative emotions and anxiety continued to increase over time, while the group exposed to random multi-color lighting that changed every three hours did not experience a significant increase in negative emotions and anxiety.

The analysis showed that the level of anxiety on the fourth day was significantly higher than on the first day in both groups.

On the seventh day of the experiment, the level of anxiety was also significantly higher than on the first day, but there was no significant difference between the level of anxiety on the fourth day and on the seventh day.

In conclusion, multi-color lighting has been found to reduce anxiety and negative emotions caused by isolation and confinement.

What’s more, the random color change of light in an isolated environment seemed to help participants gain an increased sense of surprise to counter the monotony of isolation, with an effect similar to circadian illumination.

In future space exploration, colored lighting or other sensory adaptation activities may be used in addition to teamwork and community life to reduce negative emotions and feelings of anxiety.


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