Are you Missing the Sunshine Yet? The Next Best Thing
The Importance of Natural Sunlight - According to numerous studies, poor light poses a serious threat to health. Many firmly believe that the best light for maintaining health must contain the full wavelength spectrum found in natural sunlight. Most artificial (incandescent and standard fluorescent) lighting lacks the complete balanced spectrum of sunlight. The lack of the full spectrum interferes with the body's optimal absorption of nutrients, a condition known as "malillumination". Windows, windshields, eyeglasses, smog, and suntan lotions all filter out parts of the light spectrum and contribute to the problem. Most offices, even those with uncovered windows and the lights on, have a light level of only 500 lux (the international unit illumination) as compared to outdoor light, which has about 50,000 lux, or about 100 times more. Light levels for night shift workers are usually about 50 lux. We spend about 90% of our lives indoors, under inadequate lighting conditions, which can cause or worsen a range of health problems, including depression, heart disease, hypertension, depression, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, migraines, and carbohydrate cravings, associated with metabolic imbalances. A ten-year epidemiological study conducted at johns Hopkins University Medical School in Baltimore, Maryland, showed that exposure to full spectrum light (including the ultraviolet frequency) is positively) related to the prevention of breast, colon, and rectal cancers. In Russia, a full spectrum lighting system was installed in factories where colds and sore throats had become commonplace among workers. This lowered the bacterial contamination of the air by 40 to 70 percent. Workers who did not receive the full spectrum light were absent twice as many days as those who did. Recent tests in classrooms, two using standard fluorescent lighting and two using full spectrum lights, indicated conclusively that students exposed to the full spectrum lighting had a marked diminishment of hyperactivity, less absenteeism, and higher academic achievement.
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder): Full spectrum light and bright light are effective treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The symptoms of SAD are depression, excess sleeping and eating, withdrawn feeling, lowered sex drive, etc. Melatonin levels are found to be very high in-patients with SAD. Daily exposure to sunlight or full spectrum light has been known to eliminate SAD symptoms.
How Light Therapy Works - As light enters the eyes, millions of light and color sensitive cells called photoreceptors convert the light into electrical impulses. These impulses travel along the optic nerve to the brain where they tripper the hypothalamus gland to send chemical messengers called neurotransmitters to regulate the automatic functions of body. The hypothalamus is part of the endocrine system whose secretions govern most bodily functions - blood pressure, body temperature, breathing, digestion, sexual function, moods, immune system, aging process, and circadian rhythm. Full spectrum lighting (containing all wavelengths) sparks the delicate impulses that regulate these functions and maintain health.
Changing your bulbs around the house to Full Spectrum Bulbs(5000-5500K) is a simple and effective way to get the benefits of being out in the sun minus the UV radiation exposure. Very effective for Seasonal Effective Disorder which is common during long winters and due to low Serotonin levels in the brain. Individuals who have a tendency to have their blood pressure increase during the winter months are common problems we see in the office with patients too. -Dr. J