Why is Light Important?
Since the beginning of time, humans have responded to their natural environments and internal bodyclocks. Life was dictated primarily by the transition of light and dark. We often feel happier during summer months as our skin is healthier when the sun is out and there is more natural daylight available. When there is stronger and more regular light available, the cells in our brain regulate our bodyclocks by controlling the correct levels of hormones that manage our waking and sleeping patterns. As well as our mind, mood and wellbeing.
In the 21st century, our busy lives mean many of us work shifts and many of us work in falsely lit office environments. This may result in being outdoors less. This can impact on our internal bodyclock function, which is dictated by light. Our internal bodyclock is known as our circadian rhythm, and it is important to maintain the regulation of light volume. If this is disrupted, it can cause a number of symptoms that can affect our health and wellbeing.
The Circadian Rhythm
Our Circadian Rhythm is an internal 24 hour bodyclock that regulates the biochemical, physiological and behavioural processes of humans, plants and animals - or any living organism for that matter. This 24 hour cycle syncs with light and dark, or wake and sleep, and allows the cyclical release of hormones that affect our mood, energy levels and general bodily functions.
Daylight is the key environmental factor that affects our inbuilt human bodyclock. When seasons change, less light is available, which can cause our circadian rhythm to become imbalanced. A circadian rhythm that is imbalanced may cause issues such as mood swings, irritability, over-eating, sleeping disorders, jet lag and fatigue.
Waking up naturally to a sunrise, and not the sound of a shrilling alarm clock, will kick start your body to produce cortisol. Cortisol keeps our bodyclock in sync by naturally telling our body it is time to wake up. Similarly, when it is dark and time to go to bed, our bodies produce a sleeping hormone called Melatonin. This signals to our bodies that it is time to fall asleep.
It is when we work in falsely lit offices; wake up when it is still dark outside; or to a loud alarm clock shocking our system, that our circadian rhythm can become imbalanced.