Regardless of how far light technology has progressed, as humans we are biologically hardwired to benefit from daylight exposure. Due to such advancements we are no longer experiencing the day and night cycles our ancestors were so used to, which in turn has raised issues such as SAD, vitamin deficiency and even insomnia. Showcasing an in-depth infographic on the benefits of brightening up your home with natural light, this guest post by Cool Shutters will have you craving more natural light in your very own day-to-day lives.
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Natural Light vs Artificial Light
To best understand the various ways you can let more light into your home, it’s important to understand the differences between natural and artificial light.
Natural light is produced by the sun and radiates a full spectrum of colours, whilst artificial light derives from fluorescent tubes, LEDs and bulbs. Artificial light is of course man-made, it is not always able to emit the full colour spectrum, which in turn does not allow your body to synthesise vitamin D and is not ample enough for plant growth.
From an economical perspective, artificial light has a huge advantage, especially for spaces where natural light is scarce. Incandescent light is the closest to natural light in terms of lux, however it also happens to release 90% of its energy as wasted heat – with the remaining 10% released as light.
Sunlight contains what we see as ‘Visible Light’ – which is made up of red, orange, yellow, green and blue light rays. This is also known as ‘white light’ or sunlight. Blue light is the shortest, highest energy wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum and is also known as High Energy Visible (HEV) light.
Unfortunately our eyes aren’t adept at blocking blue light, as they reach all the way through back to the retina and are responsible for a variety of health-related issues after prolonged exposure:
- Physical and mental fatigue
- Increased risk of depression
- Disruptions to circadian rhythms
- May lead to age-related macular degeneration
- Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity
Despite the negative reputation to prolonged blue light exposure, there are a surprising number of health benefits to be aware of:
- Improves memory and cognitive function
- Boosts alertness
- May elevate mood
- May help regulate/fine-tune circadian rhythms when there is a lack of natural light (with help from a professional).
A hormone known as melatonin is responsible for our sleep and wakefulness. It hits peak levels in darkness (especially during night time), hence why there has been links to decreased melatonin production when using a phone or laptop close to bed time.
Health Benefits Of Natural Light
We are built to be exposed to regular levels of natural light. To coincide with daily sunrise, our circadian rhythms are designed to respond and adapt to sunlight – but the benefits of natural light don’t just stop with a good night’s sleep:
Increases Vitamin D synthesis
Vitamin D is essential for immunity regulation, bone health and brain function. Lack of exposure to sunlight is one of the main reasons people might come across a Vitamin D deficiency. There is also evidence of sunlight increasing vitamin B levels, which combined can improve:
- Digestion and appetite
- Blood circulation
- An increase in white and red blood cell counts
- Sleep quality
- Aid in the treatment of skin conditions such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis
Low vitamin B levels have been associated in individuals with rickets (in children), osteoporosis (porous/brittle bones) and osteomalacia (softening of the bones) – ensuring you get adequate sunlight exposure decreases the chance of developing these skeletal conditions.
Improves our mental health
Many studies have shown that natural light exposure can increase our levels of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that is responsible for our mood.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression triggered by the change of seasons. Serotonin levels are generally lower in the winter due to the lack of natural sunlight, hence why SAD is common around the colder months.
Exposure to natural light has also helped many suffering from non-seasonal depression, anxiety disorders and premenstrual dysphonic disorder.
Aids our body clock
By giving yourself adequate sunlight exposure you can increase your energy and alertness throughout the day. Both light and darkness trigger our circadian cycles, which in turn help to regulate our sleep-wake cycles over a 24-hour period.
According to the Harvard School of Medicine – our circadian rhythm must be ‘reset on a daily basis in order to remain in synergy with external environmental time’, and that ‘regular exposure to light and darkness’ was key to this.
If we remain in well-lit environments when we are trying to sleep, we disrupt the timings of our own circadian signals that tell the body it’s time to rest – this explains why exposure to light in the morning can be helpful in boosting your daytime energy, and your ability to fall asleep.
Daylight is the number 1 most wanted element in workplace design due to its ability to increase productivity. Here are the statistics to back this up:
- Productivity amongst retail employees was 40% higher overall when they worked under skylights
- Office workers with direct access to natural light elements such as greenery and sunlight were found to be 15% more creative
- Schools whose classrooms had more natural light reported a 10% improvement in student’s exam scores
- A 20% higher learning rate was observed in subjects like mathematics, and a 26% increase in improved reading rate.
Workers without windows reported a poorer quality of life, sleep disturbances and more physical issues compared to those with ample natural light exposure.
Natural Light In The Home
With all of the many benefits of natural light, it’s no wonder that the amount of sunlight which we receive in our homes can affect our physical and mental wellbeing. This is exactly why Cool Shutters have put together this cool infographic to help provide some guidance on how to improve your home with some small, as well as big home improvements. The easy-to-follow infographic oulines the many benefits of brightening up your home in order to reap the benefits of natural light, and tips on making changes to increase natural light exposure: