How light impacts you

You can't wake up

Your alarm goes off in the morning. You hit the snooze button... and again... and again... You drag yourself out of bed and step into the shower, where you just stand there staring for at least 15 minutes. For breakfast you drink two cups of coffee, and you'd wish you had time to make a third to bring in the car with you...

At the office, you sit at your computer and work until lunchtime. You eat a sandwich in the company cafeteria or behind your desk and then you disappear in a meeting. And in the evening you go back to your car to drive home.

When this is your routine, you must be familiar with that feeling of not being able to wake up all day. You probably don't spend more than 10 minutes outside walking from your house to your car, from the car to work and vice versa.

Apart from the fact that you miss out on a lot of fresh air, you also miss exposure to natural daylight. Lack of natural daylight has consequences for your physical constitution and condition.

Frequencies

Daylight exists out of a whole spectrum of light frequencies. And your biological clock follows the daily changes of these light qualities. They influence the serotonin and melatonin production in your body. The two substances are extremely important for your sleep-wake rhythm. 

Green/blue light frequencies stimulate the serotonin production in your body and has a stimulating effect. Orange/red light stimulates melatonin production and has a relaxing effect.

Exposure to an 'unbalanced light pattern' can upset your biological clock and cause problems with sleep and your well being.

Sufficient exposure to natural light is a necessity for a healthy biorhythm and constitution.

Lamps

Lamps have a color temperature, given in Kelvin. Warm white light (think sunset colours - yellow/orange/red) is approximately up to 3000 Kelvin. Cool white light (blue/green) is above 3000 Kelvin.

So when you feel sleepy all day, it might be a good idea to check the lamps at your workplace. When you're exposed to lot of 'warm' light there, your body gets the signal to produce melatonin all day, instead of only at night when the sun sets.

The opposite is also possible. Staying in cool white light for too long can be a cause for poor sleep. It makes your body active and alert. This can happen when you spend a lot of time behind screens in the evening. Screens give off a lot of 'blue' light. (Some people benefit from wearing special eye glasses that filter this light.) 

So pay attention to the lamps you use. Get advice from a lamp shop nearby, if you have questions about this.

Tinted glass

Some workplaces and residences have tinted glass. Pay attention to this. Tinted glass prevents the entire color spectrum of daylight from getting in. When you, on top of that, also have warm light in your lamps, you are not giving your body the opportunity to wake up properly. This, of course, has an immediate impact on energy levels and productivity. 

Solution

First of all: make sure you get outside in the daylight enough. How much is enough, differs per person and lifestyle. Experiment with going outside and see how you feel. Besides, going outside for a walk in the park is healthy for way more than just your serotonine/melatonine levels.

Exposing yourself enough to daylight and natural light is important to feel well and prevent sick leaves.

Second: when you have mainly an indoor lifestyle, and you have problems waking up and/or falling asleep, then it might be worth to invest in two sets of lamps with different colours of light. A set of warm light lamps. And one of cold light. Or maybe even better: full spectrum daylight lamps. These lamps contain all frequencies of natural daylight. You can always get advice from a lamp specialist about this.

Now I'd like to ask you: Do you feel different when you get outside in broad daylight more or less than usual? Do you have experience with full spectrum daylight lamps? Is your sleep affected by a lot of screen time in the evening? What's your story with light? Tell me about it in the comments..

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