This article is sponsored by Mate Control. In this Voices interview, Senior Housing News sits down with Jennifer Upton, Co-founder, Mate Control to learn how senior living providers are utilizing circadian rhythm lighting to improve life in their communities and reduce staff workload. She explains how Mate Control’s lighting solution works and talks about the ease of integration with existing lighting systems and nurse call technology.
Senior Housing News: What career experiences do you most draw from in your role today?
Jennifer Upton: I’ve served in the control automation industry for over a decade, specifically on the user experience side. So, my specialty is a product of learning how to understand a system through multiple lenses. Whether it’s the caretaker, patient, resident or even the floor engineer working on the system, my experiences in control automation have enabled me to create systems that are simple and easy to use for everyone involved.
Why is circadian rhythm important relative to the aging population?
Circadian rhythm is important to everybody, but it’s particularly important for the aging population because as we age, our systems start to degrade. There are a growing number of factors that can cause our systems to get out of rhythm — you may have experienced it with jet lag or daylight savings time, for example.
Everyone’s body clock can get off track, and because sleep is one of the most important functions for our physical and mental health, it becomes even more critical as we age, especially when you take the healing process into account.
How does circadian rhythm lighting benefit senior living communities, and what are some of the outcomes that care providers are seeing?
I think it goes without saying that residents want to feel their best. When we don’t sleep well, the next day can be pretty rough, but if your circadian rhythm is in tune and you’re sleeping well, then all of your systems are working at their best.
On the flip side, caretakers are feeling the benefits as well. If all of the residents are going to bed and waking up at the natural times, and their sleep-wake cycle is in rhythm, they’re ready to eat and they have plenty of energy for activities. It reduces caretakers’ workload when everybody is in sync with each other.
Describe how your lighting solution works. What sets it apart from the offerings of your competitors?
Our circadian rhythm lighting continuously works in the background. It’s on a 24-hour cycle so if the lights are on, they will be tuned to the sun. Meaning, in the morning, your lights will radiate a beautiful, soft amber glow that intensifies throughout the day and becomes bright and energetic. Then at the end of the day, the lights fade into a sunset orange that signals its time to get ready for bed. It’s not just about the brilliance of your lights, but also the color of the lights, which shifts your melatonin levels into the right stage so your brain knows it’s time to sleep.
There are other options on the market, but they are wireless, not hardwired like ours. The hardwired system offers much greater lighting stability, and if the lights are on, they’re going to work. You don’t have to worry about Bluetooth or Wi-Fi failures.
Additionally, all of our technology is patent protected, which is incredibly important right now as we move into a new era of lighting. Everybody’s used to LEDs, and as our industry explores more innovative solutions like circadian rhythm lighting, it’s important that your technology is protected. Our technology also works with off-the-shelf fixtures, which is extremely cost-effective when our competitors are selling solutions that only work with their hardware.
How is your solution integrated into the community? Do you work with architects and interior designers?
We do. We work hand-in-hand with architects and designers. The thing that they love most is that we are light-fixture agnostic, meaning they can specify whatever light fixture manufacturer they prefer and our technology will be compatible with it.
The other way that we integrate is through nurse call systems. If there’s a nurse call system in the senior living community, there will be a lightbulb button on the panel that can control our lights in the room. It gives you this amazing new benefit for nurse call systems that are already installed at senior living communities, and our lighting integrates beautifully with them.
How can I improve my own circadian rhythm in my daily life?
First, you have to understand how your circadian rhythm works — that it’s a sleep-wake cycle rooted in a connection with the sun outside. Once you’re aware of that, you can start thinking about lighting and how lighting affects you. If you’re under a blue fluorescent light morning, noon and evening, you will be really tired because you’re not finding that natural sync with the sun.
In order to improve your circadian rhythm, you need to get outside and soak up some sunshine, and even a quick walk in the afternoon will help sync your body clock directly with the sun. Then at the end of the day, you can limit your blue light exposure to keep your body in sync. If you find yourself in front of a screen, blue light glasses can help, and they are easy to find. That blue light is affecting your melatonin levels, which is what signals your body to go to sleep at night. You can also make an effort to get rid of devices before you go to bed. Reading a book so that your mind and brain are ready to go into the sleep cycle could be a good alternative.
Finally, you want to think about sleep practices. What’s the temperature in your room when you go to sleep? How much light is in your room? Can you wear a sleep mask to help limit the exposure to light? What is the audio level in your room? Are you hearing sirens outside? Is there a way to mask those sounds? By better understanding circadian rhythm, getting more sunlight and rethinking your sleep cycle, you’ll begin to see significant results.
Finish this sentence: “The top strategy that care providers should employ in 2022 to best prepare for 2023 is…?”
…To reduce workload and direct care activities upfront with passive technology systems like circadian rhythm lighting.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Mate Control is focused on transforming healthcare by applying the scientific research of circadian lighting to hospitals & medical centers to promote wellness and restful sleep for patients. Contact us today to learn more about bringing Circadian Rhythm lighting to your community: firstname.lastname@example.org, 720-600-4430, www.matecontrol.com
The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact email@example.com.