When people decorate a room, things like furniture, textures and paint color tend to stand out. However another element that is significant, but possibly overlooked, is the lighting.
Proper lighting is a necessity for functionality, but it also has another important use.
A recent article in Psychology Today gives a great overview of depression, sleep habits, and how an unexpected culprit, contemporary artificial lighting, comes into play.
As humans, we are pre-dispositioned to be active during the day and at rest during hours where there is a lack of natural light.
Though our internal rhythmic clock has not completely abandoned us, in many ways we have altered this natural circadian cycle. By introducing more indoor activity and becoming less reliant on natural outdoor lighting conditions over the past century, we have been depriving ourselves of some needed exposure.
The article pointed to a study that examined sunlight exposure to a population of adults located in the same, sunny location. The participants wore equipment that measured the amount of contact with natural light, and it was found that the average adult was receiving less than 1 hour of natural sunlight per day. Further, self-reports revealed more incidences of depressive symptoms with those who received the least amounts of sun.
Depression is reported to effect 1 out of every 5 people in the U.S. alone.
In addition, the National Sleep Foundation has reported that on average Americans are getting about 1.5 less hours of sleep each night than just over a century ago.
One reason may be due to a constant barrage of indoor lighting from various sources. Over 90% of individuals in the U.S. use electronics up to 1 hour before going to bed, which can interfere with sleep cycles.
The study also took factors like sleep quality into account. A not-so-surprising finding was that those, including children, who slept in a room containing electronics reported lower sleep quality.
Both children and adults surveyed in their recent study have shown the negative effects that technology and lack of natural light has had on their sleeping habits. Blinking lights, bright screens and constant visual stimulation trick our internal clocks.
So, though it seems humankind has evolved, advanced and is ever increasing in intelligence with technology, there are actually some things our ancient ancestors may have done better than us.
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