Over a century ago, the mass distribution of electricity through power lines in London and other major cities began to provide sufficient illumination for people to stay indoors and remain productive at night. As technology improved over the years, this change eventually became part of our lifestyle; most people living in modern urban centres don’t immediately go to bed after nightfall and then wake up at sunrise.
This shift in the balance between natural and artificial lighting is something we’ve come to take for granted, but studies have shown that exposure to daylight is essential for maintaining our bodies’ natural circadian rhythms. This improves our sleep patterns, boosting our mood and productivity throughout the day, whereas too much artificial light in the evenings can disrupt sleep.
It’s probably no coincidence that the rise of smartphone usage (many people stay in front of their devices’ screens even when they go to bed) has also coincided with a global epidemic of sleep problems. Getting at least 30 minutes of daylight exposure each day can help you preserve the natural balance; here are some steps you can take to achieve this goal.
Even if you spend most of the day in the office or commuting like most people in the UK, you can easily get a half-hour of daylight as you go about your morning routine, eating breakfast and fixing up for work. Let in more light through the windows by removing obstructions, and maximize its effect by placing mirrors or light-coloured objects, such as rugs, in areas where the sunlight falls directly. If you’re keeping the curtains drawn out of concerns for privacy or energy efficiency, a window film supply company can provide solutions to reduce glare and maintain insulation.
Workarounds at work
Many people who work in an office can find it difficult to get sufficient exposure to natural light within the workplace. You can request that daylight should be utilized more – after all, improved worker productivity and energy savings are attractive to business owners. But there’s not much you can do about sub-optimal window (or cubicle) layout or obstructing buildings across the street. Taking a short walk outdoors during your breaks will give you the sunlight you need, and provide some relief for your office-bound muscles.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to walk or bike on your way from home to the office (and vice versa), this simple daily routine could provide the natural light you need to balance your biological rhythms. But most people don’t get enough sunlight as part of their daily commute on a bus or train. Setting aside the time for a morning run before you head to the office can nail two objectives simultaneously, as you’ll get enough sunshine along with a regular aerobic workout.
Sometimes the weather itself doesn’t permit you to receive enough sunlight. Gloomy conditions, especially in autumn and winter, can lead to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Under these circumstances, light therapy can compensate for the lack of daylight exposure and alleviate many of the symptoms associated with depression. If you feel it’s necessary, consult with a physician to find the best form of treatment for you.
By taking these simple measures to increase the amount of natural light you receive each day, and minimizing your use of devices and other artificial lighting in the evenings, you can restore your biological rhythms and enjoy a balanced life.