October in Sofia, Bulgaria, greets us with a smile. Bright and sunny, slightly covered in occasional clouds, smile. I have always found it easier to wake up in the presence of a generous sun with the drapes shut so that the room fills up with light. Probably a lot of you feel the same way. But how many of you have really thought about why that is?
Today, I am going to dwell on explaining the vital importance of [natural] light on our daily activities, mood, and energy.
The Science of Light
It is not only that the horizon looks much better when touched by the sun rays. Daily sunshine works on our sleep-inducing hormones and on our circadian rhythms. Internal processes in our bodies, these rhythms are adjusted to the local environment by external factors.
One of these factors is temperature. The other one is – yes, you have guessed correctly – light.
From the Latin circa (about) and diem (day), these 24-hour rhythms are steered by our biological clock (or the so-called circadian “pacemaker”). It is very helpful in coordinating our biology and behaviour with everyday environmental changes in the day-night cycle.
The human sleep-cycle is the most well-known circadian rhythm and in each of us differs in timing. Disturbance of our internal rhythms could be detrimental to our health and sleep. Research has shown that light has a direct impact on our circadian rhythms and, thereby, on our health.
What to do when the day is gloomy and our energy, respectively motivation, hits rock bottom? Ravaging through the web, I came across some innovative products that claim to offer a solution. But before I tell you about them, I will have to answer what a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is.
SAD is a type of depression typically associated with the late autumn and winter months which is considered to be caused by a deficiency of light. What does technology offer us in order to deal with that?
- A box that mimics outdoor light (also known as light therapy box or photography box) could alleviate SAD symptoms as this light works on our brains and elevates the mood. The price for this product on Amazon is between $250-400 apiece.
- Human species evolved to wake in accordance with the sun. Therefore slowly increasing light alerts the body that it should wake up. SunRise Clocks™ gradually fills the room with light which is very helpful for waking up in a natural way. Prices vary between $60 for a portable model and $150 for a clock radio model.
- I mentioned hormones earlier. Ayo is a wearable device that attunes our hormone levels by using a specialised lighting solution. In addition, the creators of Ayo have also developed a smartphone app with which we can control the light “as well as create and monitor sleep, energy and jet-lag improvement programs”. The pre-order price at the moment is $169.
Shying away from science and technology, the most crucial element for our energy is not the natural light, but our ability to see the sun even in the bluest of days.
Finding the positive things even in the darkest of situations is a skill which needs practice, but well reaps the results afterwards.
What do you think? Are you depressed when the sun is not up in the sky?