Light and our Mental Health
We all know that feeling of happiness when we first step outside on a lovely day. Sometimes that feeling is fleeting - but its still there.
Light is Life
Just like how plants need sunlight to photosynthesise and grow, humans need sunlight in order to thrive and be happy. Natural light causes our bodies to release good levels of serotonin and Vitamin D – the key ingredients needed to regulate our mood, have a healthy appetite, sleep properly and even remember things better. Maximising our exposure to natural light both outdoors and indoors is one of the best things we can do for our mental health.
In our fast-paced lives, it can be all too easy to forget about caring for our mental health, but it’s important to remember the many excellent effects a stable mind has towards being our best selves every day. Proper daylighting improves our mental health in many different ways, and we explore some of these below.
Light and Happiness
Serotonin is a key chemical in our bodies that sends our brain important signals to regulate our mood. It’s no surprise that we feel happier and more alive on sunny days, because sunlight exposure has everything to do with how serotonin gets released in our bodies.
A lack of serotonin can cause us extreme mental health problems, and it’s linked directly with depression and anxiety disorders. It’s quite common for people to experience seasonal depression in the colder months – as the low sunlight levels make it harder to get outside. If we don’t get enough natural light during the day in our homes, it can make our day to day lives so much drearier than they need to be.
Light and Appetite
Proper daylighting helps us maintain a healthy appetite – it’s a well-kept dietary secret. The Vitamin D that we get from sunlight is a natural appetite suppressor and having healthy levels of serotonin can even minimise the amount of junk food cravings we’re all guilty of having. Sweet foods and carbohydrates temporarily raise our serotonin levels, so when we are lacking in serotonin it’s common for the cravings to kick in again. However, giving in is only a temporary fix because these food groups deplete our serotonin levels in the long term, as well as contribute to weight gain.
Changes in our appetite can often be really concerning, so it can be a great idea to check in with ourselves and make sure we’re getting enough natural light throughout the day. And maybe next time we get unusual cravings, it might pay to spend some time under the warmth of the sun instead.
Light and Focus
Studies have found a huge impact on the relationship between our access to daylight during the day and our ability to focus properly and be productive. If we spend all day and night in a dimly lit home, it can cause us to get distracted far easier than if we were exposed to enough daylight. It’s important to make sure there are enough features for emitting daylight in our home environments so that we can make the most of our days.
Light and how we Sleep
In our previous blog, we discussed how light affects our sleep patterns in a physical way, but it can also have effects on our mental health. Serotonin deficiency has been directly linked with a number of insomnia cases. If we think of serotonin as the hormone that keeps us awake and happy during the day, melatonin is the hormone that helps us sleep at night. The amount of serotonin we produce in the day correlates with the amount of melatonin we produce at night.
How can you combat a natural light deficiency?
In many homes, it can be difficult to find ways to get enough natural light, especially if we live in houses that were designed years ago when daylighting wasn’t a main priority in architecture. To combat this, you can have a Solatube skylight installed in the rooms where we need natural light the most.
The Solatube Daylighting System is a great way to get natural light into a space that may be too open plan to make the most of windows, or any internal rooms or hallways in your home that are dim and neglected. Our specially designed optics bring in maximum natural light even in the winter, and they can be retrofitted easily.
If you think you could use a mental health boost by opening your home up to more natural light, contact us today to speak to one of our Solatube specialists and receive your free consultation and quote!