Thursday, October 29, 2015

Daylight and Your Health Part – 1

Modern lifestyles have limited our exposure to sunlight. Most of us spend the greater part of the day indoors, sitting at a desk and looking at a computer monitor. The ill effects of this are well documented and magazines and the internet are full of advice on how to exercise and eat properly to stay fit. However, there is not so much information available about what happens when we are stuck indoors with little exposure to sunlight. Perhaps it’s because of the fear of skin cancer and other conditions related to excessive exposure to sunlight. But inadequate exposure too has its dangers. Here are some things you need to know about the benefits of getting enough sunlight.

Lower Blood Pressure

Research done at the University of Edinburgh has found that when sunlight touches the skin, a compound called Nitric Oxide is released into the system. This compound helps the metabolism to lower blood pressure and by doing this reduces the risk of suffering from strokes and heart attacks. 

Improved Bone Health

The strength of your bones is related to the body’s ability to absorb and make use of calcium, which is a prime factor in bone strength. When sunlight cones into contact with the skin, vitamin D3 is produced which controls the waycalcium and other chemicals are absorbed. The more vitamin D3 you have in your system, the better your bone health and the lower your chances of suffering factures. As you age your bones become more fragile which means that exposure to adequate amounts of sunlight is even more important for older adults.

Improved Brain Function

New research is showing that Vitamin D has many other benefits besides promoting healthy bones. A study of 1,700 adults of the age of 65 and over found that cognitive function was directly related to the amounts of vitamin D in the body. The lower the level, the more the mental abilities were reduced. Additional studies have found that sunlight exposure may help the growth of nerve cells in the hippocampus part of the brain which is where memory is stored and organized.

Eases Feeling Of Depression

Humans almost universally equate brightness with cheerfulness and darkness with gloom. When a long period of cold dark weather causes prolonged feeling of mild depression (typically in winter), it is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This mild depression is also common among those who spend long hours working indoors with little or no exposure to the sun.  The reason for this is that moderate exposure to sunlight increases the body’s ability to produce natural antidepressant chemicals like Serotonin, which are mood elevators.

Improved Sleep Quality

The natural instinct to be active in daylight and sleep at night is called the Circadian Rhythm. The body produces a chemical called Melatonin that causes drowsiness. When the eyes are exposed to sunlight, the production of Melatonin is shut down and it resumes when the eyes send a signal that the body is no longer in bright conditions. If too much melatonin is produced during the day because of inadequate sunlight exposure, not enough is produced at night, resulting in poor sleep quality.

In the next part of this blog we will look at more conditions and how the use of daylighting systems can help to remedy the problem.