For the last few decades, there has been a lot of buzz around the effects, both positive and negative of the natural and artificial light on us.
Be how the light influences our mood, energy or some biological and physiological processes.
In this article, you’ll find out why and in which ways, sunlight can either help us or damage our health.
From the synthesis of Vitamin D which is crucial for us to some problems such as sunburn, premature aging, and even skin cancer.
You’ll find out why exposing to artificial light-every light produced by electrical means from tablets, laptops, smartphones, and TV to LED lights and incandescent bulbs harms you.
Okay, let’s begin with the sunlight.
The sun often gets a bad rap for affecting our health badly, but the truth is it has tons of positives for our overall health when we’re getting just enough of it.
Have you ever thought about why everyone is so keen on going to the beach? I guess it’s more than just to get a tan or burn.
Whenever I think of relaxation, what my brain immediately illustrates is the picture of a big ocean in front of me with the golden sand, the peaceful sun warming me and the gentle breeze brushing against my skin while listening to the sound of the waves, crashing against the shore.
Honestly, I can’t imagine anything better, like most of us.
Scientists found out that the sun may be addictive, that’s why we just can’t resist getting tanned.
A group of scientists exposed mice to moderate UV radiation 5 times a week for a period of 6 weeks. The light the animals were getting was similar to what a fair-skinned person would get.
The results said it all. After this period, a molecule, called beta-endorphin was found in the mice’s blood.
For those who don’t know what exactly beta-endorphins are-Endorphins are brain chemicals which influence our perception of pain. They act just like some drugs.
So, spend just an hour under the warming sun, and you literally will feel like you can’t stop smiling.
Probably the best source of vitamin D is the Sun.
Vitamin D is one of the essentials of being healthy. As not much foods are that rich in this vitamin, some time spent under the rays is important.
For example, if you’re fair-skinned, 15 to 20 minutes several days a week will do the work for you.
However, if you have a darker complexion, you should stay a bit more under the sun to get the benefits.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. So, when UVB rays hit cholesterol in your cells, which is a lipid molecule, the reaction produces energy and vitamin D uses it.
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to some serious health conditions such as depression, weak bones and muscles, osteoporosis and even increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Have you heard about the seasonal affective disorder or (SAD)?
In simple words, that’s a seasonal depression-SAD literally makes you feel sad.
If you’re like the most people with SAD, you’re feeling under the weather from early fall to late winter.
In some cases, SAD may occur either in early spring and during the summer, but that’s another case.
If during the winter your energy levels are low, you lose interest in almost everything, you gain weight and feel tired even though you sleep literally all the time, don’t blame it on the winter blues.
There are some things you can do to beat the seasonal disorder.
Go outside and get some sunlight.
Even though it’s winter, the UV rays will still get to you and help you to deal with that seasonal sadness by synthesizing some beta-endorphins.
Another trick is to change your diet by lowering the carbohydrates intake to avoid insulin boosts.
Probably one of the most common negative effects of too much sun is sunburn.
We’ve all been there and we know how bad it is. Sunburn is caused by UV light and can occur after just several hours of direct sun exposure.
UV rays are in the invisible part of the solar spectrum and even though we don’t see them, they can get through our skin.
Our skin has two layers-inner and an outer layer which are the dermis and the epidermis.
When our skin protects from the UV rays, a pigment called melanin becomes more and our skin, darker.
An effect of way too much sun is the sunburn which occurs when the UV rays have passed through the epidermis and have reached the inner layer of the skin. Sunburn can damage, kill skin cells or even cause cancer.
The symptoms are well known and they go through redness, bumps, dry skin which can peel over time(that’s the way your skin gets rid of dead cells).
But the real problem is skin cancer.
There are two types-melanoma and nonmelanoma. The first one is far more aggressive and harder to treat and it originates from moles or any pigmented cell on the skin.
The nonmelanoma type is a lot more able to treat and can start its development from hair follicles, oil, and sweat glands as well as blood vessels.
As UV radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer, it’s crucial to protect our skin.
The easiest and the best way to protect your skin is by applying a sunscreen.
The timing is important. Put it on your skin around half an hour before getting into the sun to let the cream absorb properly.
Also, look at the SPF factor. The higher, the better. If your skin is likely to burn easily, a SPF 50 will work best for you and if you go for a swim, just reapply it. It will save you a lot of headaches.
Okay, let’s move forward. Artificial light for sure has a lot more negatives than positives for our health than natural sunlight.
Understanding when to expose ourselves to artificial light can make us more alert during the day or help us falling asleep easier.
We all know that artificial light has an adverse effect on animals or on entire ecosystems. But how does the light affect us?
We need light, right?
Contrast to what you may think, we don’t have to look at the clock to see if it’s time to get to sleep. Every living organism has an internal, biological clock.
This internal clock regulates most of our functions, and the biological pattern that regulates our sleep, behavior etc. is called a circadian rhythm.
It is affected by light, both natural and artificial. When the sun goes down, the brain sends signals to our body to secrete melatonin which is the sleeping hormone and when it rises, cortisol is released to make us get out of bed.
But given that nowadays artificial light is everywhere-from incandescent to LED, CFL, and halogen light bulbs to all of the electronics, it’s hard to avoid harmful light.
The main problem with artificial light is blue and UV light.
I guess you’ve heard about blue light and that it interferes with our sleep. But what exactly it is and how does it affect us?
Blue light is a part of the light spectrum. All electronics and the sun emit blue light.
Actually, blue wavelengths emitted from the sun are good.
Blue light during the day keeps our mood and energy high when we’re awake but when the sun goes down, the blue light exposure confuses our circadian rhythm.
We just can’t fall asleep because blue light suppresses the secretion of melatonin. Looking at the bright screens just before we go to bed confuses the circadian rhythm, i.e. our internal clock.
For sure, the best way is to live in a cave and have no exposure to other light but the sunlight, but we all know it’s impossible. The solution?
Installing an eye protecting software will for sure deal with your sleepless nights.
I can recommend you using Iris. It removes almost all of the blue light from your screen and has different types and modes which can do a lot more than just reduce blue light and brightness.
Try it now to start getting a good night’s sleep, save your eyes and become more productive.
Avoid using energy efficient LED light bulbs which are bad for your health. Replace them with incandescent bulbs or use candles from time to time.
Remember to expose yourself more often to natural sunlight to get your daily dose of endorphins and vitamin D.
If you can’t avoid artificial light especially at night, definitely install Iris to start sleeping better than ever.
You can use Iris on any Windows type and it’s free, except of some pro versions.
Thank you for reading this article. If you’ve found it useful, share it with friends on the social media.