The health benefits of daylighting

Phantom Screens / July 22, 2016

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Before the invention of the electric light, buildings had to be constructed with an eye toward daylighting, the practice of using the sun to light up the home. Today, we have the resources to rely on a many types of artificial light sources. Because of this, we have somewhat moved on and abandoned the original practice. However, new research outlining the health benefits of using natural light in the home has reignited interest in the lost art. Increasing your exposure to natural light on a daily basis will have prolonged positive effects on both your physical and mental well-being.

Daylighting history

The practice of designing the home to take best advantage of the sun’s path in the sky fell out of favor during the 20th century as electric lights allowed very large spaces to be fully illuminated without any windows at all. In modern times, the practice of daylighting has gained more traction as a sustainable way to cut down on energy use. Recently, the benefits of natural light exposure have been the subject of extensive study and it has been discovered that the type of light the sun produces is ideal for the body.

The benefits of natural light can be traced to the wavelengths that make up light. Sunlight is mostly composed of short wavelengths in the blue spectrum while artificial light is composed mainly of longer ones from the red spectrum. The human body is naturally geared towards responding positively to the shorter, sun-originated wavelengths as opposed to artificial light. That is why most individuals will prefer a sunlit room to an artificially lit one – our bodies are built to respond to it.

Health benefits

A literature review from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory put together all the relevant studies of the sunlight’s effect on human well-being (see the study here). Their research showed that sunlight is best suited for a variety of biological functions over any other type of light. For example, scientist W.E. Hathaway found bodily functions, such as vitamin D production and vision, operate best when exposed to the full-spectrum light of the sun. In addition, the body’s natural cycles of waking up and going to sleep (known as circadian rhythms) are reliant on the blue spectrum of light. As such, perhaps the best alarm clock you can set for yourself is a wide window facing your bed!

Natural light isn’t only good for your body, but also your mind too! Those feeling depressed or anxious will find a lot of relief simply by laying out in the sun for a little while. It’s not well known why sunlight has such a significant effect on a person’s mood, but the existence of conditions such as seasonal affective disorder points to a strong correlation between light exposure and mood. Many scientists believe that the positive psychological effects of daylighting are related to the increased connection with the outdoors that naturally lit spaces enjoy. Looking out a large window and admiring the view triggers the production of certain hormones that positively affect attention and mood.

Increasing your home’s natural light

Phantom Screens are perfect for increasing the amount of natural light being let into your home. With mesh types ranging from insect protection to solar, it is easy to find a retractable screen customized to fit your desires. If you want to learn more about how each of our products can let in natural light, look around our site at our door, window and motorized screens.