As the end of daylight savings can leave Aussies feeling pretty blue with the lack of sunlight leaving many feeling tired, unproductive and lacking in energy. Highlighting the impact of lighting on people’s lives, recent research conducted by Philips Lighting shows that 80% of the nation feel more positive if they live in a light and bright environment.
In light of this, psychologist and wellbeing expert, Belinda Williams, shares her top tips on how you can use light as a tool to improve your mood and boost your energy during the darker months.
Vitamin D is key
With darker days on the horizon, it’s important Aussies get their daily dose of Vitamin D. In Australia this isn’t hard to come by in the warmer months, but once the clocks tick over it gets a bit more difficult. Vitamin D is important from a nutritional perspective but also from a mental health perspective via sleep and mood. In terms of biorhythm, it indirectly regulates our circadian rhythm (and therefore our sleep) by regulating the production of the hormone melatonin. So how do we overcome this annual challenge thrown down by nature? We can look to other ways which the body regulates its wellbeing through our nervous system. Specific lighting cues can have an activating or deactivating affect which in turn can mitigate our stress levels and brain functioning. With cooler months on the way, it’s important to be strategic with our exposure to both natural and artificial light, as both are beneficial to our well-being.
Follow the sun
From a psychological perspective, exposure to natural light first thing in the morning can help stimulate our nervous system into the ‘go’ zone, produce serotonin and boost mood. It can prepare our body for action, focus and performance. Conversely as the sun sets our body more readily enters a state of relaxation as the nervous system preparing it for sleep and recovery. With daylight hours shifting and reducing in the cooler months, this may require a change in sleeping patterns to make the most of the morning light.
Happiness in the home
Research conducted by Philips Lighting shows 80% of Australians feel more positive when they live in a light bright environment. We’re fortunate to have new technology on the market such as smart lighting, which offers the opportunity to adapt light in a way that triggers our nervous system into either relaxed or wakeful states. In the same way that exposure to sunlight can stimulate our biorhythm, smart lights can also be used in the same way. A cooler tone of light can stimulate a more alert state, and a warmer tone can stimulate a relaxed state. This is particularly helpful when daylight savings ends, as everyone’s work and life commitments follows the sun. For examples, shift workers can use smart lighting to help regulate their biorhythm and induce restful or wakeful states according to their schedule of active and rest periods, leading to a healthier and happier life.
Belinda Williams says, “Lighting benefits many aspects of our physiology, this happens as light is a fundamental ingredient in the regulation of our circadian rhythm. Equally, the perceived comfort and quality of light can impact mood. The ability to adjust lighting depending on demands of activities enhances a sense of control over the environment which has been demonstrated to support performance and wellbeing.”
Luc Schlangen, Scientist and Philips Lighting Research Expert says, “shades of white light have different impacts on our circadian rhythms, much like sunrise and sunset. Exposure to cool blue white light suppresses our sleep hormone, melatonin, and hence makes us feel more alert and awake. This is why offices and gyms, and operating theatres use this shade of white light, whereas exposure to warm yellowish white light increases melatonin levels, and is used in places of relaxation like our living rooms and bedrooms, and also bars, restaurants, and hotels.”
Philips Hue has specific features such as Siri Voice Control and Routines that allow people to sync the lighting to their own mood or routine, improving health and wellbeing with the end of daylight savings. In addition, the wake up routine helps you to wake up naturally by increasing the brightness of the lightbulb.