There are loads of scientific studies that reveal the importance of daily ration of sunlight in our body. Why should this surprise us? It should not when we consider that life on earth evolved under a powerful full-spectrum light source, THE SUN. Its invisible infra-red rays warm the soil, and the air. Plants use the blue and red rays to power photosynthesis. In animals, including mankind, the changing light levels prepare us for seasonal changes.
Artists Appreciate The Power Of Light
Henri Matisse was afraid that the all-out colours of his brilliant Fauvist canvases might actually blind him. He described the colour as a ‘’savage and gluttonous god.’’ The biobehavioural power of light is a lively area of research. Studies have revealed that our bodies need exposure to a full spectrum light if we are to feel energetic and perform at our best.
Researches in the Soviet Union have been impressed by the ability of light to lower people’s reaction time and improve their performance at work and in school, that full-spectrum light has been installed in many of the country’s buildings.
In Norway, there’s a law that every employee is to receive a certain amount of natural lighting. While in the USA and Canadian schools, supplementary full-spectrum lighting has been credited with reducing absenteeism and decreasing hyperactivity among first graders.
The Importance Of Sunlight In Vitamin D Synthesis
When ultraviolet (or UV) falls on humans, it enables the skin to synthesize vitamin D, and the blue light is the most effective colour for preventing jaundice, a condition that can cause brain damage in infants. Are you then surprised that low vitamin D level in the blood have been associated with numerous diseases? Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and can be taken in a large quantity because they can be stored in the liver until needed. This, unfortunately, can lead to toxicity, especially with people using supplements.
Surprisingly also, virtually all people diagnosed with cancer have a low level of vitamin D
The dramatic effect of full-spectrum light on human behaviour has been analysed. It is known that mood and performance suffer when a person’s doses of light are either too little or irregular.
What Can Mitigate Our Light Doses?
We have a history of indoor activities, and our leisure hours are mostly also spent indoors. The little sunlight that gets to us do so through a blanket of air pollution, and which we also filter through window and sunglasses.
Typical indoor light can do little to supplement our impoverish light diet, neither incandescent nor fluorescent lights are biologically active because they are too dim and offer too little of the spectrum.
Also, the false notion by some sunscreen manufacturers that claim that exposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer.
The Timing Of Our Sunlight Is Essential Too
Timing of our light doses is important too, the more reason sunrise and sunset have a tremendous influence on human behaviour. Two typical examples are, workers on night shifts and travellers who fly across several time zones, who have their pattern of sleep and neurotransmitters are thrown off balance, a common palace we know as ‘’jet lag.’’
We vary in our sensitivities to light. Symptoms vary from lethargy, off days at work to suicidal depression. But the effects are real enough that the lead researcher, Alfred Lewy and his Associates at Oregon Health Sciences University refer to ‘’LIGHT AS A DRUG’’, one that can be used to treat certain types of depression and sleep disorders.
Hormone Melatonin And Serotonin And The Seasonal Rhythms
Researchers have pinned down the working of how light affects the seasonal rhythms to a pineal gland within the head. This pineal gland is attributed to the ‘’third eye’’ that reads light levels in some animals.
Exposure to sunlight releases the hormone serotonin, which boosts mood, while it helps a person stay calm and focussed.
In contrast, the pineal releases melatonin, a hormone that travels in the blood to trigger changes throughout the mind and body. The lower the light, the more melatonin is secreted.
Specifically, melatonin and serotonin help to regulate our daily and seasonal rythmns
This means in essence that the short days of winter can cause an elevated level of this hormone, which makes a substantial number of people responds by craving carbohydrates, put on weight, avoid social contact but just to sleep. These are victims of SAD, (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Sufferers become less efficient, lose energy and others that are loosely termed ’’WINTER BLUES.’’
The conclusion is that sunlight should be treated as an important nutrient for health and wellness.
Exposure of the body creates Vitamin D, which helps strengthen immunity and promotes bone health.
Theoretically, sunscreen lowers vitamin D level activation in the body.