The wellness movement is about more than basic physical health. Instead, it takes a more holistic approach, factoring in the psychological pressures we face, and how we feel about our bodies and our environment on a day to day basis.
Lighting is one of the most frequently cited elements that can impact wellness, and until you’ve looked into this claim, it can sound a bit far fetched. So do the lights you choose and the types of illumination you expose yourself to really make a difference to your overall well being?
At the core of the discussion around how lights have an effect on our health is something known as the circadian rhythm.
This is essentially the built-in, biological process which tracks and controls our cycle of sleep, with the 24 hours it takes for the Earth to complete one full rotation forming its foundation.
Over the millions of years of evolution that led to modern humans, the circadian rhythm has been solely influenced by sunlight. The rise of artificial light, therefore, has disrupted our normal patterns of rest and wakefulness, bringing a raft of problems along with it.
Thankfully you can get circadian lighting for your home, which makes use of smart lamps and bulbs to synchronize with the natural rhythms of your body. These can lessen or eliminate the unwanted effects of artificial light, without forcing you to go back to the dark ages, both figuratively and literally.
So what are those issues which are caused by having your circadian rhythm knocked out of the joint? Well, they vary from person to person, but the most influential is the inability to get enough sleep.
Studies have shown that blue light emitted by smartphones and other screen-bearing devices is especially problematic in this context. It essentially tricks your brain into thinking that the sun is still high in the sky even if it is past your bedtime.
If you are prone to checking your handset before settling down for the night, this could compromise not only the amount of sleep you get, but also the quality of the sleep itself.
From this, many of the other health concerns associated with lighting can arise. This ranges from tiredness and depression to a higher chance of contracting a serious condition, such as heart disease or cancer.
Thus if your lighting is not attuned to the needs of your body, you could find that this negatively impacts your health both on a daily basis and in the long term.
As mentioned, you can make changes to the lighting you use to address this, although you will also need to adapt your habits to get the best results.
Avoiding the use of screens for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed is advised. And if your smartphone offers a blue light filter, turning this on can contribute to a more restful sleep as well.
At the other end of the spectrum, the effects of inadequate lighting should also be taken into account from a wellness perspective, especially when it comes to your eyes.
Trying to read or focus on anything in overly dark conditions can put unnecessary strain on your eyes. Over time, this can exacerbate the onset of age-related eyesight deterioration.
As such it is not just about having the right lights in your home, but also thinking about where you position them. Reading lights in the living room, and bedside lights on your side tables, are popular for a reason.
Another factor to bear in mind is that while we should be avoiding too much artificial lights in the evenings, it is equally necessary to get out there and expose ourselves to natural light during the daytime to reap the full benefits of our circadian rhythms.
The daylight is known to stimulate and energize our bodies, since historically we would have needed to be physically active and alert in order to gather food, hunt prey and avoid predators.
So if you want to boost your productivity and performance at work, or feel the motivation to fulfill your fitness goals each day, don’t shy away from the sunlight.
During the colder months of the year, when days are shorter, having artificial lights which can replicate sunlight is actively advantageous.
This can not only deliver the aforementioned benefits in real time, but also lessen the impact of mental health issues such as seasonal affective disorder.
So whether you want to chill out in the evenings and get a good night’s sleep, or rev yourself up to face the day ahead, lights really do make a difference. This isn’t hocus pocus, but hard science, and well worth taking note of.