What To Know About Natural Light And Your Health
Daylight is a crucial part of everyday life. It's the basis of our daily schedules, grows our food, powers our appliances, just to name a few. It also directly affects our overall health, from warding off seasonal depression, stress, fatigue, heart disease, and even certain cancers. No matter how you look at it, the benefits of natural light are far reaching.
So how can we maximize the amount of daylight in our lives? While basking in sunlight outdoors all day everyday isn't an option for most of us, adding more sunlight to your home and workspaces does wonders, too — your skin absorbs vitamin D from natural daylight whether you're inside or out!
Here are the best reasons to seek more daylight in your home or office, and tips to make it a reality.
The Sunshine Vitamin
Anytime you're exposed to sunlight, inside or outside, your skin is soaking up Vitamin D. Your body needs Vitamin D to help ward off a variety of long-term health conditions — so get as much of it as you can get naturally, when you can. According to the National Institutes of Health, Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rash of long-term heath conditions ranging from cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea and IBS, to diabetes, muscle deterioration, neurological diseases, and even some cancers. Elderly people are the most at-risk, according to the NIH, suffering from muscle deterioration which leads to more falls, greater demand for healthcare resources, and a higher morbidity rate.
That's some scary stuff, and reason enough to increase the amount of natural light in the living and work spaces where you spend the most time.
Work harder, not harder
That need for a "corner office with a view" is more than just a middle-class cliche. According to a recent study from HR advisory firm Future Workplace, and reported by Harvard Business Review, found that among North American employees "access to natural light and views of the outdoors was the number one attribute of the workplace environment outranking stalwarts like onsite cafeterias, fitness centers, and premium perks including on-site childcare."
What's more interesting is what happens when employers actually provide naturally-lit workspaces to employees. HBR reports there are substantial productivity benefits associated with natural daylight, including a 51% drop in incidences of eyestrain, a 63% drop in reported headaches, and a 56% reduction in drowsiness, all resulting in better productivity according to research from Cornell University Professor Dr. Alan Hedge.
With many people working from home as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, these findings may be translated to the need for more natural lighting in home offices and remote workspaces as well.
Live Happy & Healthy
It's no secrete that good sleepers tend to be happier and healthier than those who struggle to get good quality Zs. But did you know that natural daylight also plays a roll in how much sleep you can get? Another study by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois found that people exposed to natural light throughout the day slept for nearly an hour longer (46 minuets) than those with less exposure to natural daylight. The study correlated those findings with fewer sick days, better moods and productivity, too.
A good night's sleep can do wonders for one's mental health, as does exposure to natural daylight, especially in the fall and winter months when the days are much shorter north of the equator. Seasonal Affective Disorder and its less debilitating (but still detrimental) counterpart "the winter blues" affects millions each year when the seasons change. Increasing the amount of sunlight exposure during these times of year is important to help maintain a healthy mindset, reduce stress, and ward off extended bouts of depression or sadness.
How To Add More Natural Light Indoors
Adding more natural light to your indoor living and work spaces can be done in a variety of different ways. From installing more windows or skylights in your home, to adding Sun Tunnels, mirrors and reflective color schemes in specific rooms, brightening your home with natural light is something anyone can do, regardless of your budget.
Installing new windows or skylights, or replacing old, damaged or dingy skylights, is the most effective way to introduce a tremendous amount of natural light into your home. New installations, as effective as they are, are often expensive considering the cost of labor and materials, but replacing older skylights with newer technology is highly recommended, especially if the skylights are more than 5-8 years old.
The quickest, most affordable option to add natural light to your home is with Sun Tunnel skylights, also known as tubular skylights, sun tubes, solar tubes, etc. Sun Tunnel skylights deliver the same benefits of traditional skylights for a fraction of the cost, and installed in as little as a few hours. Sun Tunnels can even be installed in centrally-located areas of your home where windows and skylights aren't an option, making more natural daylight a possibility anywhere you want it!
If home alterations are not an option, simply adding mirrors, reflective accents, and even more light reflecting accents to your home can brighten your spaces dramatically. While you won't get daylight directly from the outdoors like you would with windows, skylights, or sun tunnels, brightening your livings spaces provides many of the same productive benefits, and adds new life to your home or office.