Pretty Dandy

Why light is important and how to get more of it in your home

“Consider the whole span of human life on Earth as a single day and the light switch was flipped on less than a second ago. Piccadilly Circus, Times Square and Shibuya have only just started to shimmer; the iPad has been glowing for well under a nanosecond.” Intelligent Life
Recently I read an article in Intelligent Life magazine about the science of light and it really got me thinking.

The article states that new research is showing how light is vital to our health, wellbeing and general happiness. Not just for people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder, but for everyone. Animals which don't get enough light eventually die. A horrible thought, sorry, but it just shows how important it is.
When in well-lit rooms we perform tasks more efficiently, make fewer mistakes and are more alert. A research study of women who had heart attacks showed that those in rooms with more daylight and sunshine got better quicker. Also, people in hospital rooms with lots of light needed fewer pain killers. Light affects our moods and also our sleep – one of the most important factors in our health and happiness.
Light comes in 3 main colours – red, green and blue – and these help to set our body clock. There’s lots of blue light around in the mornings, which tells us to wake and be alert. Unfortunately nowadays there’s also lots of blue light around in the evenings – shining out from our TVs, laptops, tablets and phones.

Blue light
In England we have a lot of dark gloomy days and bright electric nights, which means our body clock gets confused and this then affects our sleep patterns. This gets worse as we get older because our lenses are less effective at receiving blue light and knowing when to wake up.   
Cloudy day
So, what can we do to get more light into our lives at the right times, without turning off our phones at 7pm or going back to rising with the sun and sleeping at sundown? Are there things we can do in our homes and offices to make these changes?
The expensive option – as mentioned above – is to put bigger windows in your home or even skylights, French doors or folding doors. Or even to move to a house which isn’t overlooked or which gets lots of sun during the daytime.
For lots of us those things just aren’t affordable, practical or even possible, so here are a few suggestions for smaller/cheaper ways we can get more light into our homes and get back towards a more natural light-rhythm:
  • Think about how you use your home and paint your ‘morning rooms’ bright, light-reflective colours - like white. For me this means the kitchen. I spend my morning time in the kitchen preparing breakfast, reading the paper, having a cup of tea.
  • Paint your ‘night-time’ rooms a darker colour – it’s cosy and will absorb light to give your brain the signal to start getting sleepy.
  • Use a range of lighting when decorating to ensure you can to turn the light down as it gets later in the day – this could be using lamps as well as overhead lighting, installing a dimmer or even just using candle light.
  • Use blackout blinds to block streetlights if you have them outside your bedroom.
  • Open those blinds as soon as you wake up to get as much morning light as possible.
  • Eat breakfast by the window or outside if you can.
  • When working move your desk near to a window, if at all possible.
Deask near window
  • If you can why not consider an even bigger move? Think about how you use the rooms in your home and whether you are making the best use of the space. Perhaps you have a gloomy little office and a nice bright guest room - why not swap them over?
  • Get a desk lamp – a small change but getting more light during the day – even electric – will help set your body clock right.
  • Buy daylight bulbs to use to boost light during the daytime
  • Buy ‘warm’ light bulbs with less blue light in for night time
  • Chop back any bushes or trees obscuring light in your daytime rooms
Light fixture

There are also lots of other good, practical suggestions at the end of the Intelligent Life article related to changing how you live and technological solutions. I’d recommend it giving it a read.
So what do you think? Do you believe that getting more light can improve your mental and physical health? If you do, what changes can you make to your home today to start getting better?
Date: 11 Jul 2014 16:01
Author: Becky
Tags: inspiration