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How Natural Light Affects Mood

Sep 21 2020

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Woman enjoying the fresh morning sunlight while enjoying a cup of coffee.

They say that the best things in life are free – and natural light is definitely one of them! Having a healthy amount of natural light can benefit a person’s mental state tremendously. But when we think about how natural light affects our mood, we will also touch on the many ways that natural light impacts overall health.

If you’re considering upgrading your home with new windows or doors to allow more natural light in, then you’re definitely one step closer to a healthier and happier you. In this article, we will explore the ways how natural light affects mood, the bodily mechanisms behind it, and a few recommendations about getting more natural light into your home towards the end.

So without further ado, let’s get started!

A woman sitting beside a window and gazing out the window with a smile

1. Natural Light Gives You Vitamin D – Which Goes Way Beyond Stronger Bones

When we talk about overall wellbeing and vitamin D, there is quite a lot to unpack because this vitamin is crucial to both the body and the mind. But first, how does natural light give us more vitamin D? Well, when sunlight touches the skin, it triggers the skin to produce the active form of vitamin D which is vitamin D3. This form of vitamin D is utilized by the bones, muscles, teeth, and even the brain.  

The most well-known function of vitamin D is regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are necessary to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. Therefore, a lack of vitamin D can lead to the following symptoms: bone deformities in children, bone pain caused by osteomalacia in adults, muscle weakness, cramps, gum disease, and tooth decay.


Vitamin D for Easing Depression

Of course, the pain of the above bone and muscle conditions will do nothing for boosting one’s mental state. But aside from that, vitamin D also plays a direct role in maintaining one’s mental wellbeing and keeping depression at bay. 

Research showcased in the British Journal of Psychiatry concludes that low vitamin D is associated with depression. This is why vitamin D can play a role in the treatment of depression. The exact mechanism of how this happens is yet to be seen and surely scientists are still scratching the surface. It is a clue, however, that there are in fact, vitamin D receptors in the brain and the brain needs vitamin D to function well. 

Vitamin D for Overall Brain Function

In an article published by the Scientific American, it is stated that a vitamin D deficiency can lead to impaired brain function. This is because the brain needs vitamin D to stay healthy, alert, and functional. Dr. Robert J. Przybelski further states that there are receptors for vitamin D throughout the central nervous system and hippocampus; and that vitamin D plays a role in neurotransmitter synthesis, nerve growth, neuron protection, and reduction of inflammation in the brain.

This is why vitamin D deficiency is linked to brain fog and faulty memory. This can show up in everyday life as forgotten tasks, errors at work, compromised creativity, and so on. So by maintaining brain health with the right amount of vitamin D, one is able to step up positively towards any task, challenge, or goal with a clear head.

A person enjoying sunlight while playing the guitar

2. Natural Light Triggers the Production of Endorphins, A Well-Known Feel-Good Chemical

Research showcased by TIME finds evidence that melanocytes (a type of cell found in the skin) are triggered by the UV light found in natural light to release endorphins in the body. And if you’ve been reading up on mental well-being and boosting mood, endorphins are definitely one of the body’s star players in this arena. 

Endorphins are neurochemicals that affect the mood by boosting pleasure, reducing pain, and giving a feeling of well-being. Most people experience surges of endorphins after a fulfilling workout, after overcoming a stressful challenge, when faced with physical stress, when eating one’s favourite meal, when bonding with loved ones, and of course, after getting a healthy dose of sunshine. 

Because endorphins are so critical for mental wellbeing, endorphin deficiency results in depression and anxiety which can then lead to trouble sleeping, addictions, impulsive behaviours and so on. 

Endorphins for Easing Depression and Keeping it at Bay

Numerous studies link mood disorders and depression to low levels of endorphins. And it makes sense because endorphins are one of the key components in the human body that bring about positive feelings. This is why natural light is often an important part of therapy for people suffering from depression – the endorphin release as well as the increased Vitamin D helps to ease this condition. As for people without this condition, natural light can help to keep it away. 

Endorphins for Alleviating Stress and Anxiety

A psychopharmacological study shows a direct relationship between anxious behaviour and low endorphin levels. This explains natural light, exercise, and other similar activities that trigger the release of endorphins can help bring about a feeling of calm.   

3. Healthy Amounts of Natural Light Helps You Stay Productive by Day and Gives You Better Sleep at Night

Healthy sleep is crucial for overall mental wellbeing. In fact, sleep deprivation is reported to increase negative moods such as sadness, irritability, frustration, and anger. Healthy exposure to sunlight positively affects the body’s circadian rhythms and sleep cycle. 

According to the SleepFoundation.org, when you are exposed to a healthy amount of sunlight during the day, this signals your brain to be alert and active. Many offices are realizing this and find ways to have more natural light to help employees stay more upbeat and productive. It is also applicable to home offices. After a period of alertness, when the sun goes down, your brain will be primed to relax and sleep better. 

How to Have More Natural Light in Your Home and Workspace

Sunlight is crucial to our health and wellbeing. The good news is that it is absolutely free. All you would need are high-quality windows from trusted brands like Clera Windows + Doors and Burano Doors. These versatile window manufacturers will be able to provide you with custom windows that fit cleanly and beautifully into your home or office. If you are looking for more than the standard window placements, you can find unique places in your home where you can have windows for added light.

And there you go! Which of these benefits of sunlight were you most amazed to learn about?

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