There is a reason why when someone is sad we say he’s in a ‘dark mood’. Some rays of light can change that significantly. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that levels of the hormone which influence the mood (serotonin) are higher during the summer and lower during the winter. One of the most important factors for this difference is daily exposure to sunlight. Rare exposure to sunlight can even lead to depression. The rays of light and warmth coming from our closest star are beneficial in many other ways too. So, let’s see what else advantages we can have from sunlight exposure and how to take the most out of it?
The Importance of Sufficient Light
Light is one of the basic needs of our bodies and by being exposed to it at the right time and intensity we are helping our internal body clocks to function properly. It is a signal for waking up in the morning and a source of energy. When it is decreasing it is a sign that the time for rest has come. Basically, light in its many forms and levels is regulating our life tempo and drastic changes could shake things up quite a bit.
The Many Health Benefits of the Sun
Not only it can influence your overall mood, sun is also helping you reduce stress and create better sleeping habits. Namely, it can shut of the production of melatonin, a hormone which is produced during the night and makes you feel dreamy. Going out in the sunlight for just 15 minutes every day will signal your body that it is no longer night and that it is time to wake up. The ‘sunshine vitamin’ (Vitamin D) is linked with protection from kidney and breast cancer. It can also improve bone density.
The Amount of Light We Need
This depends on the time of the day and how active we are. High levels of light are needed during the day, when there is a need for being attentive at work or school. Going outside for at least 15 minutes in lunch hour is more than good for you. This time spent on natural light is much more effective than all day in artificial light. An ordinary light bulb is 250 to 500 lux, while sunlight is between 50,000 and 100,000 lux. It is advisable for people suffering from Seasonal affective disorder (depression related to seasonal changes) to spend more than an hour exposed to natural light. The evenings, however, require more relaxation and thus lower levels of light.
Light inside Our Homes
It’s only natural that we brought this up because we all spend much time inside our homes. Because our bodies need the ‘sunshine vitamin’ it’s important to make sure our house is receiving enough light from the outside. Diffused light that is entering through windows is providing us with vitamin D and protecting us from bacteria. Because of that, the first thing we should do in the morning is to open the curtains and let our bright friend in. Artificial light is also important, but you shouldn’t rely on it for too long. Though it can give similar output as sunlight, it can never replace the original and compensate our need for serotonin and Vitamin D.
All of this doesn’t mean that you should be exposed to sunlight all day to reach the perfect health and happiness. As with everything else, moderation is the key.