Updated: Feb 2, 2022
Ambient natural lighting in hospital patient rooms and ICUs is a rarity. Delirium is common. Food deserts in hospitals are the mainstay despite contracts with socially conscious companies like Aramark and Sodexo. More on this later.
Human circadian cortisol rhythms depend heavily on exposure to natural light. Decades of artificial lighting contributed to the current psychiatric pandemic. Duloxetine (antidepressant), Sertraline (antidepressant), Escitalopram (antidepressant), and Zolpidem (insomnia) are all in the top 25 most commonly prescribed medications. These problems are only further exacerbated through near continuous blue light stimulation of which the ultimate ramifications remain unknown. China has limited screen time for youth based on their understanding of the ill effects of excess screen time while Western countries have expanded access to online content due to unfounded concerns regarding in person learning. The concerns are unfounded due to the ubiquity of coronavirus, related persistent underestimation of disease prevalence, and exceedingly limited morbidity and mortality amongst vaccinated teachers and unvaccinated pediatric populations.
Future hospital design might trial incorporating vast exposure to sunlight through large windows, skylights, and ambulatory areas for patients to improve regulation of circadian rhythm cycles and sense of wellbeing. Improved ventilation systems in outdated facilities and strategically placed indoor and outdoor air filtering vegetation may also be studied to improve indoor air quality in hospital systems.
A zeitgeber is a rhythmically occurring cue given by the environment, such as a change in light or temperature, to reset the internal body clock. From German, it is directly translated as "time giver".