What are the health benefits of natural light?
There’s nothing better than drawing back the curtains or opening window shutters to let natural sunlight flood the room. Exposure to light can instantly improve your mood and set you up for the day ahead. If you’re eager to learn more about the impact of natural light, here’s a handy guide to the health benefits you could enjoy if you open those curtains wide and enjoy more time in the fresh air.
Health benefits of natural light
Natural light offers a raft of benefits for physical health and mental wellbeing. Studies have revealed a diverse set of perks linked to regular exposure to natural light. With many of us spending up to 90% of our time indoors, it has never been more beneficial to understand the impact of brightening up your home and feeling the sunlight on your skin.
Your body is capable of producing many vitamins independently, but vitamin D production requires sunlight. Vitamin D is crucial for good health because it enables the body to absorb calcium, which produces strong, dense bone tissue. Vitamin D deficiencies have also been linked to an elevated risk of depression and obesity.
Although it is possible to take supplements, the best way to boost vitamin D intake is to spend more time in the outdoors and increase exposure to natural light. Of course, do ensure you don’t get burnt. Opinions differ on the amount of sunlight we should expose our skins to. We believe the CancerActive SafeSun Campaign is the best advice….
Lifting your mood
Have you ever noticed that you feel better when you open the curtains to reveal blue skies and sunshine, rather than miserable grey skies and rain clouds? Many people find that they feel happier, and more energetic and optimistic in the spring and summer than in the autumn and winter. Exposure to natural light can help to lift your mood and reduce the risk of seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.
Around 6% of the population develops symptoms of SAD, while up to 15% experience ‘winter blues.’ Being out in the open and filling your home with as much natural light as possible can help to ease anxiety and make you feel happier and more motivated.
Studies consistently show that people who work in environments that are flooded with natural light are more likely to be productive and efficient.
Being tucked away in an office that doesn’t have windows could increase the risk of anxiety, affect morale and reduce energy levels. Being close to a widow, a door or a skylight is proven to boost energy levels, enhance wellbeing, and improve focus and concentration.
If you don’t work in a setting where natural light is available in abundance, it’s beneficial to take breaks throughout the day and step outside to increase vitamin D levels and enjoy a change of scenery.
Circadian rhythms and sleep quality
Your internal body clock is one of the most critical contributing factors to sleep quality and duration. The body clock is governed by circadian rhythms, which play an essential role in determining when we sleep, when we wake, and when we carry out important bodily processes, such as cell repair and digestion.
In the most basic terms, our rhythms are designed to coincide with light and dark, and this is why we tend to feel more alert and sprightly when it’s light and sleepier and calmer when it gets dark. We associate daylight with being awake and darkness with being asleep. Exposure to natural light can help to stabilise the body clock, which is really important for good quality sleep.
If you struggle to sleep at night, you may find that adjusting your routine is beneficial. If you go to sleep and wake up at a similar time every day to coincide roughly with the appearance of light and dark, you should find that you sleep better. Often, people experience sleep troubles as a result of going to bed too early or late and adjusting the time they wake up every day.
Increasing your exposure to natural light during the day and ensuring your bedroom is quiet and dark can help to improve sleep habits.
Tips to get more natural light
If you’re worried that you’re not letting enough sunlight into your life, take a closer look at your home and your work environments. Brighten up the walls with lighter shades, add windows or skylights where possible, make sure you open the curtains or shutters as soon as you get up in the morning, and spend more time outdoors.
If you work in a dark environment, take regular breaks to stretch your legs and increase light exposure.
Many of us spend the majority of our time indoors. While there’s nothing wrong with getting comfortable and cosy at home, it is important to understand the benefits of natural light exposure. Open up cramped, compact spaces, let light stream through windows and doors, and try and get out into the open as much as you can. You should notice a positive difference in your energy levels, your mindset, and your sleep quality.