For millions of years, humans relied only on the sun, moon, and the stars to guide their body clocks and know when to go to sleep and when to wake up. However, in the last century or so, we have been collectively exposed to artificial lighting. Artificial lighting is pervasive in our world today. While it has come with many benefits, it also has its downsides. In this article, we discuss some of the harmful effects of artificial lighting.
Sleep Schedule Disruption
Sunrises and sunsets are usually in shades of red and orange, whereas midday is when the sky is blue. Our sleep cycles are guided by these colors. The red and yellow colors tell our body it is time to go to sleep, while the blue color is a signal to stay awake. The combination of the full spectrum lighting provided by the sun throughout the day is what has guided the evolution of our body clocks (circadian rhythms). Artificial lighting disrupts this body clock.
Artificial light emits a large amount of blue light. Blue light informs the body that it is still midday. This causes a confusion in the body. Melatonin, a neurotransmitter created by the pineal gland, plays a very vital role in controlling our sleep cycle, and therefore, our overall health. Exposure to blue light prevents melatonin from being produced by the pineal gland. Overexposure to artificial lights can end up causing our circadian rhythms to go haywire, leading to a variety of problems. The interruption of our body clocks leads to an impairment in our psychological and mental functioning and therefore, lead to many problems such as inability to sleep, changes in the timing and release of hormones, clouded thinking, and a disturbed blood pressure. If the circadian rhythm is disturbed over and over again, it can dramatically increase the risk of numerous diseases and disorders, especially those that are related to mental health. Disruption in the sleep cycle also leads to lowered immunity. Cells in the body cannot regenerate effectively without adequate sleep.
Eye strain occurs when the eyes are tired – there can be fatigue, blurred vision, redness or dryness of eyes, or even headaches. Even though the purpose of lighting is to illuminate a room and therefore, see things clearly, artificial lighting methods do contribute to repetitive eye strain. Fluorescent lamps as well as LED lamps tend to flicker intermittently. This in turn causes the eye to constantly readjust to the change in the intensity of light. The final result: eye strain. Constantly being exposed to artificial lighting an also lead to migraines in the long run.
Other Health Effects
Apart from the negative health effects already mentioned above, artificial light is also significantly less useful than natural light when it comes to their effect on human health. Artificial light does not stimulate the production and maintenance of two vital nutrients: Vitamin C and Vitamin D. Both of these are required to ensure a healthy immune system. Furthermore, artificial light can also worsen some other health conditions, such as prediabetes, rickets, and multiple sclerosis.
How to Avoid the ill effects of artificial lighting?
While it is not ideal to get rid of artificial lighting entirely, it is possible to control how and when it is used in order to ensure that we can minimize its negative effects. Here are some simple tips to help:
- Expose yourself to some form of ambient, natural sunlight daily.
- Avoid using artificial light excessively in the day. Avoid windowless spaces whenever possible. Keep the house lights dim at night. Preferably, lights should be dimmed or turned off in rooms that are not being used. Attempt to work in naturally well-lit areas in the day.
Let Dr. Lite Help
At Dr. Lite, we provide a premier range of lamps that offer to the most balanced spectrum light. They have patented blue light absorbing filters that minimize their effect on your sleep cycle. Glare and flicker is also minimized by our medical-grade lights. Check out our shop and find our premier range of products that suit your needs best today!