2020 was definitely a year for the history book! And as we look forward to 2021, many of us are hoping for a brighter year than the one we've just left behind. Well, believe it or not, literally making your 2021 brighter by incorporating more natural light into your life can help give your year a much-needed boost.
Natural Light Benefits
Over the past few decades, the main public health message regarding sunlight has been focused on reducing the risk of skin cancer by ensuring that we don't spend too much time in the sun. But increasing evidence is showing not enough sunlight can also be detrimental. In fact, there are a number of benefits that come from incorporating more natural light into our lives:
- Benefit your vision. According to North Carolina State University, "Computer screens, smart phones and fluorescent light can cause eye strain that can lead to permanent eye damage. Natural light has been shown to lower the risk of nearsightedness in children and young adults by helping the eye produce dopamine, which aids in healthy eye development."
- Boost immunity. The immune system relies on T-cells to fight foreign pathogens. Sunlight — more specifically, vitamin D — is critical to T-cell function; without it, the cells remain dormant and incapable of fighting off pathogens.
- Feel more energized. Sunlight slows down the body's ability to make melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and makes us tired. Getting enough natural light helps your body's inner clock get on track, giving you a better night's sleep and more energy during the day.
- Help mental functioning. A study conducted by the California Energy Commission found students with the most daylighting in their classrooms progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% faster on reading tests in one year than those with the least.
- Increase focus. Exposure to natural light in the morning and evening has been shownto increase concentration and focus. And naturally lit spaces have shown to help boost productivity.
- Increase happiness. Natural light helps the brain produce serotonin, a hormone that can improve mood, as well as endorphins, also known as the "feel-good hormone."
- Increase the value of your home. A recent study by Building Technology Innovations found that increased natural light makes rental spaces look bigger and more open, resulting in people's willingness to pay more.
- Lose weight. Higher levels of serotonin in the body has been shown to suppress appetite. And a 2014 study published in Diabetes found that ultraviolet radiation helps suppress obesity and symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
- Prevent SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that has been linked to a lack of sunlight, causing disruption to circadian rhythms and decreases in serotonin and melatonin.
- Reduce blood pressure. Research shows that sunlight alters levels of nitric oxide (NO), a small messenger molecule found in the skin and blood, which reduces blood pressure.
- Reduce stress and anxiety. 30 minutes of natural light in the morning can help create inner calm, according to PhD fellow Brenda McMahon, MD, of the Neurobiology Research Unit at the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark: "The light simply improves the communication between the regions of the brain that are central to our handling of emotions such as stress and anxiety."
- Save energy and money. Strategic natural lighting can reduce energy costs by heating or brightening a space without electricity.
- Sleep better. The inner clock that tells you when to sleep is triggered by light and darkness. Too little natural light can throw this clock out of whack, and according to at least one study, people exposed to more natural light slept 46 minutes more per night on average.
Maximize Natural Light in Your Home
So, how do you maximize the natural light in your home to reap all these benefits? Look up! There's a perfectly good fifth wall you can use to incorporate more daylight throughout your home.
Skylights are a creative and efficient way to bring more daylight inside. With innovative features like the ability to open, Smart Home capabilities, round-the-clock light control with blinds, and Clean, Quiet & Safe Glass, the skylights of today provide more benefits more easily than their plastic counterparts of the past. And remember: where a traditional skylight won't fit, a Sun Tunnel® Skylight will!
Still weighing the pros and cons of a skylight in your home? A 30 minute consultation with a VELUX expert can help you make the best design decisions for you and your family! In the mean time, here are a few other ways to maximize natural lighting in your home:
- Avoid heavy drapes and window treatments.
- Clean windows regularly to allow as much light through as possible.
- Opt for lighter colors in your décor: bright colors reflect the light, dark colors absorb it.
- Paint interior window frames white to amplify the natural light's reflection.
- Rearrange your furniture so it doesn't block your windows.
- Strategically arrange mirrors to reflect natural lighting.