Whether we are active and full of drive or feel tired and sleepy depends to a large extent on light. Light controls our internal clock and gives us a certain rhythm in which waking and sleeping phases alternate.
Depending on brightness and light color, certain hormones are produced in the body that make us either awake or tired. As numerous studies have shown, light also affects our mood and our performance. Read more about how light influences our physical and mental well-being in the following article.
Light sets the mood
Light, or rather a lack of light, has a considerable influence on our mood. This is particularly noticeable in winter, when the days are short and we get correspondingly little daylight. Many people then feel powerless and listless and suffer from mood swings. This is known as the “winter blues”, which affect around 40% of all people. If this low mood develops into a seasonal depression, appropriate treatment with light is promising. In fact, today depression can often be very well controlled with light therapy – gently and without unpleasant side effects.
Light has a significant influence on our well-being. It affects hormone production and regulates our day and night cycle. This effect is particularly pronounced with natural light, but artificial light sources can also influence our mood: While bright lighting, perceived as rather cool, makes us feel awake and active, warm, reddish light reminds us of the end of a day and makes us feel tired. Make targeted use of these properties to create a feel-good atmosphere at home!
Vitamin D for a healthy body
Natural light is a real miracle weapon against diseases. It stimulates the metabolism, strengthens the immune system and ensures healthy sleep. Vitamin D, which is produced in the human organism by UVB light from the sun, is particularly important for the body. This lowers the risk of developing breast or colon cancer and also helps build muscle mass. Through the improved calcium absorption capacity, the light ultimately helps to build healthy bones. But natural light is not only indispensable for the body, it also gives the soul an energy boost: the good mood that comes over you almost automatically when the sun shines is caused by the release of the happiness hormone serotonin.
Lack of light in winter
As positive as vitamin D is for the organism, it is also noticed negatively when it is lacking. Especially in the dark and cold season, a lack of light causes a low mood. Tiredness and fatigue make everyday life more difficult if you do not see enough sunlight. Although you can take in a small amount of the vitamin D you need through food, this does not cover your daily needs by a long shot. So make sure you get regular glimpses of light in winter, too – a walk or exercise in the fresh air will replenish your light store.
How does the inner clock tick?
When it gets dark and the melatonin level rises, the body goes into sleep mode. However, night work keeps it awake and only sends it to sleep when there is less melatonin again with daybreak and the command is actually “Wake up!”. Also, those who work at night and sleep a lot during the day get even less daylight than others. There are animal studies that show that daylight deprivation leads to a long-term change in hormonal processes and weakens the body’s defenses.
No wonder, because the complex physical relationships are precisely balanced. They are actually built into the body, like an internal clock. The alternation of day/night sets this clock again and again. So we need daylight and its effect on our melatonin balance in order not to get out of sync.
So-called daylight lamps could help a little. They deceptively fool the body into thinking that it is daytime and that melatonin levels need to be kept low. They can believably imitate daylight for the body in that their light contains the spectrum of the sun. Normal lamps are too dark for this and do not have this spectrum.
Light therapy – a gentle treatment method
In light therapy, the patient sits in front of a light source at a distance of about one meter for up to 60 minutes a day. The light falls on the retina of the eye. As a result, the messenger substance serotonin is produced in the brain, which brightens and motivates the mood. Therapeutic lamps imitate natural daylight in terms of brightness, intensity and light color. The irradiation signals the body to stop producing melatonin (the so-called “sleep hormone”). Light therapy can thus cause a person to be awake and active during the day and sleep better at night, thus increasing well-being and performance.