“O, Sunlight!” writes author Roman Payne, “The most precious gold to be found on Earth.” Sunlight is a necessity to the survival of our being and most other species on the planet. We need the sunlight for power in our minds, our bodies, and our spirits. Think of an indoor house plant. Typically indoor house plants fall somewhere on the scale between one of two extremes. Either indoor house plants need a plentitude of sunlight or it needs a minimal amount of sunlight. No matter the amount of sunlight, the plants need sunlight- just like human beings. We need sunlight for Vitamin D, for our health and wellness, and for our circadian rhythm. Too much sunlight or too little sunlight can be damaging to the body. Recent research has found that there is a severe deficiency of sunlight in people’s lives. People who are lacking in natural light and are taking in too much artificial light might be at higher risk for depression.
There are arguments to whether sleeping with light or no light is better for the body’s circadian rhythm. Camping is a great reset for sleep patterns because there are hardly any artificial light sources in the wilderness. Everyday life at home, whether that be in an urban or suburban environment, includes a lot of exposure to artificial lighting, especially during sleeping hours. A study published in The American Journal of Epidemiology conducted in Japan found that light disturbances during sleep can increase the risk of depression. Anything from an outside street lamp, to the glow of a digital screens, to a digital clock, could be interrupting the brain’s natural circadian rhythm and contributing to depression.
Over 900 individuals were used for the study and had their sleep patterns examined. Some participants slept in a room with 5 lux or more of artificial light at night and others slept in a room completely sealed in darkness. Those who had artificial light in their room were at a higher risk of depression than those who did not. IFL Science notes that “10 lux is a single candle from 0.3 meters (1 foot) away,” emphasizing that the amount of light which could contribute to depression is incredibly small.
Other research has found that exposure to primarily artificial lighting throughout the day hurts the brain, as does over exposing the brain to the blue light behind digital screens. Moreover, more exposure to natural light helps with the sleep pattern, giving the brain the proper kind of stimulation instead of stimulation caused by artificial lighting.
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