Swap Indoor Activity for an Outdoor Equivalent
The average Westerner spends 90% of life indoors. We’re getting less light during the day & more at night which disrupts our body clocks. One downside is poor sleep. Other disadvantages include vitamin D deficiency & reduced cardiovascular, physical & mental health. Poor immune function has also been reported. For example, patients in hospitals recover faster when they have access to daylight.
Even small increases in exposure to bright light in the daytime can improve sleep & mood as well as speed up recovery from illness. Morning light exposure has been found to be best for setting the body clock & increasing alertness & reaction speeds.
So, how can we get more light at the right time? Getting outside more, particularly in the mornings, is best. Have a morning cuppa or breakfast outdoors. Sit near a window. Have lunch outside. Swap the gym for the park. Some buildings are now being fitted with lighting that mimics outdoor light conditions. One study found that residents in care homes that had brighter indoor lighting during the day (similar to an overcast day) showed less cognitive deterioration and depression compared to residents in homes with normal lighting.
It’s also important to reduce night time light exposure. Light at night suppresses the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps maintain the wake-sleep cycle. Reduce late night artificial light exposure, particularly from computers and iPads.
By increasing daylight exposure & reducing nighttime light exposure, as we’re evolutionarily conditioned for, we’ll get a better night’s sleep and improve our health & wellbeing.
Source: Living daylight, New Scientist 1 June 2019.