The discovery of a novel non-rod, non-cone photoreceptor in the mammalian eye that mediates a range of ‘non-visual’ responses to light has required reexamination of how lighting needs for human health are characterized and evaluated. Existing literature provides useful information about how to quantify non-visual spectral sensitivities to light but the optimal approach is far from decided. As more is learned about the underlying biology, new approaches will continue to be published. What is currently lacking is a flexible framework to describe the non-visual spectral effectiveness of light using a common language. Without a unified description of quantities and units, much of the value of scientific publications can be lost. In this paper, we review the existing approaches by categorizing the proposed quantities depending on their application. Based on this review, a unified framework is provided for use in evaluating and reporting the spectral effectiveness of light for human health. The unified framework will provide greater flexibility to model the non-visual responses to light and is adaptable to a wide range of lighting solutions of interest to researchers, designers and developers. A new visualization tool, the SpeKtro dashboard, is available to explore the unified framework on-line at spektro.epfl.ch.