How Does Artificial Light Affect Our Bodies?
The positive effects of being out in nature with fresh air and natural light are widely reported, but with most of us working indoors during the week, more and more people spend their time under artificial lights. So, what are the effects of artificial light on the human body? In this article, we’ll look at some of the research.
Light and our body clock
Our bodies rely on an internal body clock to regulate our days – this is also known as our circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm keeps us roughly in line with a 24 hour day but, although this is a biological clock, it can be affected by external stimuli, namely light.
One of the main aspects of our life that the circadian rhythm controls is our sleep-wake cycle. Daylight signals to our bodies that it’s time to be alert and awake and, as it gets darker in the evenings, our eyes observe that there is less light around. Our bodies interpret lower light levels to mean it’s nearing time to sleep and, as a result of the reduced light, melatonin is produced which promotes sleep.
The impact of artificial light
Now, whilst the sleep-wake process can carry on nicely with natural light, artificial light is known to disrupt this natural cycle. With an abundance of artificial light sources – whether from lamps, screens or streetlights – our circadian rhythms can be thrown off as more light will mean less melatonin is produced. This can result in difficulties sleeping, poorer quality of sleep, fatigue and a host of other sleep-related syndromes.
Perhaps more disturbingly, circadian rhythms are also linked to fundamental bodily processes such as cell division – disturbances in this process can lead to many diseases and disorders. Research has drawn links between circadian rhythms seriously disrupted by artificial light – for example, in overnight shift workers – and an increased likelihood for heart disease, breast cancer, obesity, and other major health problems.
Spending a lot of time around artificial lights during the daytime can also have an impact. Not only does the blue light emitted by artificial lights suppress the production of melatonin, but it is also is of a higher frequency and can enhance glare. These factors can be harmful to our eyes after prolonged exposure, causing problems such as eye strain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes.
How can you help reduce the impact of artificial light?
Artificial light has become so ingrained into our everyday lives it can seem hard to mitigate the potential negative effects. However, with a few small changes, you can make a noticeable difference. For example:
1. Invest in quality, well-fitted blackout blinds to ensure street lights don’t disturb your sleep quality – these can be very helpful for shift workers who need to sleep during the daytime too
2. Choose dimmer lights so that you can tone down bright lighting in the evenings when you’re winding down for the day
3. Look for light bulbs which emit warm light – manufacturers are aware of the effect of blue light and many produce bulbs specially designed to produce less disruptive, warm, soft light
4. Try and limit screen time leading up to bedtime
Leamington Blinds supplies and fits a wide range of high-quality blinds. From neat blackout blinds and rollers to timeless Venetians and Romans, our team of professionals can help you select the perfect style for your practical requirements and home. With a free fitting from our well-trained, experienced team, your new blinds will look terrific and function smoothly in their new home. If you are situated in and around Leamington Spa, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team with any enquiries.
31st October 2018