The secret to a happier and healthier home lies in how well you light up your space. Follow our guide to lighting your home right and experience an enhanced sense of wellbeing.
We discovered last week just how effectively colour in the home can impact our mood.
Light, both natural and artificial, has a huge impact on your health and happiness at home, and the effects are not always positive.
Moods, sleep, skin, energy, body clock, immunity, even weight, can see shifts depending on your exposure to light within your home, so it pays to know where and when to let it in, and conversely, block it out.
Here, Lysn psychologist Breanna Jayne Sada talks us through the part light plays in the home, and reveals her tips for lighting the way to better wellbeing.
The impact of natural light on your overall health at home
Natural light, while making your home appear brighter and more welcoming, also possesses a myriad of health benefits.
“From a physical sense, natural light boosts Vitamin D which we know is important for preventing various diseases,” says Breanna.
“But from a psychological sense, research has shown there is a strong relationship between daylight exposure and sleep, activity, and overall quality of life.”
Our body’s circadian rhythms are governed by our exposure to natural light, says Breanna.
Commonly referred to as the ‘body clock’, the circadian rhythm is the cycle that tells your body when to sleep, wake, and eat. In short, it regulates many of our physiological processes.
“Too little natural light and important body patterns like sleeping, feeding and regulation of bodily functions like blood pressure are negatively impacted,” Breanna tells.
“Exposure to sunlight, particularly in the morning, has been shown to have antidepressant effects,” says Breanna.
To start your day off the right way, Breanna suggests taking advantage of natural light wherever possible. Think to open your blinds the moment you wake up and only closing them once night has fallen.
“Consider small changes like making sure those curtains aren’t always closed and opening windows where you can.”
A recent study found that employees exposed to abundant natural light in the workplace experienced greater levels of energy and productivity.
“Along with happier workers, substantial financial and human performance benefits have been associated with increased natural light, so you can start to imagine how this flows on into the home,” says Breanna.
The impact of artificial light on your overall health at home
Maybe you live in a land-locked abode, have your house sheltered by a thick canopy of trees, or possess smaller windows. The reality is, we can’t always help the amount of natural light we can let into our homes.
“A dark home means that we become more reliant on artificial lighting,” says Breanna, adding, “But our body knows the difference between natural light and artificial light, and the benefits we get from natural light are not matched by artificial light.”
In fact, it’s become apparent through research that LED or blue-toned lights found in some lighting, televisions, smartphones and laptops interrupts our circadian rhythms and notably suppresses our body’s production of the sleep hormone called melatonin.
The production of melatonin, a hormone produced to bring about sleep once the sun goes down, is interrupted by these artificial lights.
The glow emitted from devices and artificial bulbs confuse the circadian rhythms and can make it very difficult for you to fall asleep and even stay asleep come bedtime. This interruption can even affect appetite and is directly linked to weight gain.
Anyone who’s had a bad night’s sleep can attest to the fact that it can hinder your approach to the entire day that follows.
“As artificial light has such an impact on our sleep, we may then see the flow-on effects of lack of sleep, such as an increased risk of anxiety, depression, weight gain and reduced immunity,” says Breanna.
Breanna’s top 5 tips for lighting your home right
- Open curtains and windows from the minute you wake up, to the moment the sun sets.
- If your home doesn’t let in enough natural light for you to notice the positive effects associated, try and spend some time outdoors each day. Just remember to apply sun protection!
- Create strict rules around your usage of devices. “Set a time each night to switch off all devices and encourage things like reading instead.”
- Look into apps that change the tone of the light on these devices so it emits a warmer glow. “There’s an app called Flux that intuitively changes the light setting on laptops and iPhones depending on what time of day it is.”
- Replace harsh light bulbs in the home with incandescent bulbs that calm and soothe the body instead of stimulating it.