Daylight - You Need It! (and it's free)
Daylight - You Need It! (and it's free)
by Mary Ann Copson
Founder of Evenstar Mood & Energy Wellness Center for Women
Daylight is your fundamental source of clean personal energy in your body. Light is a basic requirement for a healthy body and sunlight is crucial to normal health and wellness. You absorb and use different components of sunlight through your eyes and skin. Being exposed to adequate sunlight is essential for your mental alertness, your emotional well being, and the proper production of hormones.
Light regulates your internal biorhythmic cycles that govern the ebb and flow of your physiology and contributes to longevity, immunity, and sexual functioning. Light affects your mood, energy levels, weight, hormone levels, sexuality, fertility, and even your life span.
Light deprivation can lead to stress symptoms, fatigue, mental fogginess, depression, hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating, weakened bones and teeth and weakened immune responses.
Exposure to normal day/light - night/darkness cycles entrain your body clock to its normal rhythm. The body clock influences almost 200 processes in the body including those that effect hunger, energy, blood pressure, body temperature, digestion, physical strength, reaction times, sexual appetite, urine production and brain balance. Without the exposure to normal light /dark cycles, the body clock can go awry and your internal rhythms and physiology can become chaotic.
Daily exposure to light influences sexuality and fertility and keeps hormones in balance. Sunlight boosts testosterone - a hormone important in increasing sexual desire - in both men and women. Sunlight also boosts estrogen levels, which are needed for vaginal integrity and lubrication. A lack of light seems to reduce fertility and may negatively affect the ability to conceive.
In addition to the pituitary gland, natural light stimulates the hypothalamus and thereby influences the level of almost every hormone in the body. Natural light sends messages to the hypothalamus through the eyes and smaller amounts come through the skull. The hypothalamus balances actions of the autonomic nervous system-which runs the basic body functions.
Because of its effect on the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, light has been suggested as an effective part of therapy for hormone imbalances such as premenstrual syndrome, thyroid imbalances, polycystic ovaries, and infertility.
The limbic system uses messages about light to help regulate the body's production of adrenaline and noradrenaline and to influence emotions.
Bright natural outdoor light stimulates your pineal glad to make serotonin. Serotonin is an important "feel good" neurotransmitter. Serotonin regulates your feelings of well being and satisfaction.
When your skin is exposed to light, it increases the production of antiseptic oils that encourage wound healing. The light exposure on the skin helps lower cholesterol levels and helps produce Vitamin D and testosterone. Light - ultra-violet B - exposure on the skin promotes the production of Vitamin D from cholesterol. Vitamin D is a hormone that is in serious short supply in many people today. Vitamin D affects the health of your bones, brain, breasts, prostate, stomach, colon, pancreas, parathyroid glands, skin, and bone marrow.
Some of the light that hits your skin penetrates very deeply and produces heat in the body. This makes your arteries and veins expand - increasing the supply of oxygenated blood. The blood distributes some of the energy from light on the skin to every part of the body.
Fat loss may be significantly affected by your exposure to sunlight. Bright sunlight is essential to increased energy, metabolism and fat loss. Optimal exposure to light raises your metabolism and spending the day in low light stimulates fat storage. When the skin is exposed to sunlight, it triggers the production of melanocortin. When melanocortin reaches the brain, it suppresses the appetite centers, which speeds up metabolism and promotes fat loss. Melanocortin also stimulates thyroid hormone production, which increases metabolism.
You need to be exposed to at least 1,000 lux of light in order to receive the health and well being benefits of light. Our minds need at least 1,000 lux of light for increased alertness, concentration, and creativity. Our emotional well being needs light for increased harmony, peace, and vitality.
The best light is sunlight. Even at daybreak, the sun's light is much brighter than indoor light. At daybreak, with the first glimmer of sunlight there is already 800 lux of light in the atmosphere. Around 40 minutes after sunrise the light intensity increases to 10,000 lux. Sunlight at noon on a bright summer day measures about 100,000 lux. Normal room lighting is about 500 lux with some reading light providing 1,000 lux. All natural daylight, even on an overcast, rainy, or cloudy day is brighter than normal indoor light.
Make it a regular part of your healthy life to get out in the early morning sunlight. Expose yourself to moderate amounts of sunlight regularly by taking a walk in the fresh air and sunlight between 6:00 and 8:00 AM for about 30 minutes. (Take your glasses off if you wear glasses for at least part of your time outdoors. The lenses filter out some of the important UV.)
At this time in the morning the sun's rays are usually not so intense that you risk getting sunburn but are bright enough to give the healthy benefits of light. Do not expose yourself for too long and get out of the sun if your skin starts to feel hot and begins to redden.
If you cannot get out in the early morning sunlight get out in the late afternoon sunlight (after 3:00 PM). For your total health and well-being requirements you need approximately two hours of daylight exposure every day.
Tips and Precautions
Adjust the exposure according to your skin type and age -older people need more exposure.
Don't use sunscreen for the entire time you are outside as this blocks the light's beneficial effects on the skin. Light's invisible ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths have the most important effects on our health and well being. The UV exposure stimulates Vitamin D production, discourages infections and some skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis. UV boosts melanin production and energizes us through our blood.
Don't get sunburn. And use sunscreen if you will be outside for longer periods. UV intensity is greatest in the summer, between the hours 11 AM to 3 PM (however, some research suggest that the skin makes the most vitamin D during the hours of 11 AM and 2 PM), at high altitudes and in dry, clean air. The downsides to too much UV exposure include: burning, it may trigger skin cancers and some autoimmune disorders such as lupus, and cataracts and age related macular degeneration.
If you cannot go outside sit by a sunny window. Plain glass allows most light wavelengths to pass through, although it does filter out some of the beneficial UV.
Boost the health effect of your indoor electric light by using a full spectrum, flicker free bulb or tube. A daylight bulb is second best to a full spectrum bulb.
Avoid too much sunlight exposure if you have: premature aging of the skin, skin cancer, cold sores, cataracts, age related macular degeneration, rosacea, lupus or light sensitive migraines.
Avoid too much sunlight exposure if you are taking any light sensitive medications. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.