Scientific research has shown that people subconsciously seek places illuminated by the sun and enjoy spending time in natural light. Research has also shown that there are real benefits associated with spending time in spaces that offer plenty of natural light.
The benefits of natural lighting are numerous and can affect a person’s health, the environment and the use of energy.
Regardless of how far the technology of light has advanced, as human beings, we are biologically prepared to benefit from exposure to daylight.
Due to these advances, we are no longer experiencing the day and night cycles that our ancestors were accustomed to, which in turn has raised problems such as SAD, vitamin deficiency and even insomnia.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF NATURAL LIGHT
We are made to be exposed to regular levels of natural light. To coincide with the daily dawn, our circadian rhythms are designed to respond and adapt to sunlight, but the benefits of natural light are not limited to sleeping well at night:
INCREASE VITAMIN D SYNTHESIS
Vitamin D is essential for the regulation of immunity, bone health, and brain function. Lack of exposure to sunlight is one of the main reasons why people may find themselves with a vitamin D deficiency. There is also evidence that sunlight increases vitamin B levels, which in combination can improve:
- Digestion and appetite.
- Sleep quality
- Blood circulation.
- An increase in the white and red blood cell count.
- Help in the treatment of skin diseases such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.
Low levels of vitamin B have been associated in people with rickets (in children), osteoporosis (porous/brittle bones) and osteomalacia (softening of the bones); Ensuring that you get adequate exposure to sunlight decreases the possibility of developing these skeletal conditions.
IMPROVE OUR MENTAL HEALTH
Many studies have shown that exposure to natural light can increase our levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for our mood.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression caused by the change of seasons. Serotonin levels are generally lower in winter due to lack of natural sunlight, so SAD is common in the colder months.
Exposure to natural light has also aided many suffering from non-seasonal depression, anxiety disorders, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
There has been a lot of study on the connection between sunlight and mood. A solid study found that sunlight actually increases the levels of a natural antidepressant in the brain.
On sunny days, the brain produces more of the chemical serotonin that lifts the mood than on the darkest days.
HELP OUR BODY CLOCK
By exposing yourself adequately to sunlight, you can increase your energy and alertness throughout the day. Both light and darkness activate our circadian cycles, which in turn help regulate our sleep-wake cycles during a 24-hour period.
If we stay in well-lit environments when we try to sleep, we interrupt the times of our own circadian signals that tell the body that it is time to rest. This explains why exposure to light in the morning can be useful to increase your daytime energy, and your ability to fall asleep.
Daylight is the # 1 most wanted element in workplace design due to its ability to increase productivity. Here are the statistics to support this:
- Productivity among retail employees was 40% higher overall when they worked under skylights
- It was found that office workers with direct access to elements of natural light, such as vegetation and sunlight, are 15% more creative.
- Schools whose classrooms had more natural light reported a 10% improvement in test scores for students
- A 20% higher learning rate was observed in subjects such as mathematics and a 26% increase in the improved reading rate.
Windowless workers reported worse quality of life, sleep disorders, and more physical problems compared to those with ample exposure to natural light.