Light is crucial for our well being. Just like water, food and air, light is essential for cellular function and energy production. During the evolution of the modern human, our ancestors were exposed to much more natural light than our current state because they lived and evolved in the outdoors, spending their days hunting, gathering and absorbing natural light photons from the sky. Meanwhile, at night, they would gather around fires to stay warm and cook food.
Compared to the current state of affairs, we spend an average of 90% of our lives inside. We work inside, we cook inside, we entertain ourselves inside and more often than not, we exercise inside. We’ve literally reverse engineered ourselves away from our natural need for light. And it’s potentially causing negative health effects on ourselves. Just as we can suffer from malnutrition from a poor diet, we can also suffer from mal-illumination from little exposure to lighting.
Mal-illumination is not something you hear about everyday, but think about it: For millions of years, pre-humans and humans spent an average 10 hours of their day, 7 days a week, outside, absorbing natural light as they progressed through their day. In less than 200 years, alongside the birth of industrialization, we’ve largely moved indoors, away from our natural habitat, into more comfortable beds (no argument here!), away from natural light, natural food and natural air.
Chances are, you might be light deficient. And the deficiencies trickle down to functions of the body aided by natural light. Sunlight hitting our skin manufactures vitamin D, which has enormous potential to benefit the human body. Vitamin D promotes healthy bones and teeth, supports immune, brain and nervous system health, and even supports lung function and cardiovascular health. When we have a deficiency in vitamin D, we’re more prone to infection, cardiovascular issues, BACK PAIN and even mood swings.
Meanwhile, light entering our eyes, the “window to brain function,” regulates vital circadian rhythms that control appetite, mood, sleep and libido. We’re happier when we get natural light, and we sleep better when we expose ourselves to natural light.
We are, for lack of a better word, functioning like a green plant and collecting energy from the sun. That is, when we’re optimized and getting sufficient natural light. But because we’re not outside hunting and gathering and living our lives, we’re probably light deficient. So what can we do?
1. Set a reminder to get outside!
There is no better substitute for natural sunlight than getting outside. Set a reminder on your phone to get up and get outside during that lunch hour to soak up the sun. Several times a week, aiming to get 10-30 minutes of natural sunlight may help you more than you know.
2. Take a lunchtime walk!
Lunch hour doesn’t need to be spent chatting in the break room. Take the advice of step number one and go for a lunchtime walk! And if you work from home and have a dog, it’s a win-win situation for all.
3. Restructure in-office meetings to be outside, walking meetings.
We’ve all probably been there before: counting down the hours during an in-office presentation. Sometimes, there is no way around it. Other times, small one-on-one meetings can easily break out of the office, into and around the parking lot. Before you know it, you’re upped your step count while getting natural sunlight!
4. Skip the grocery store and go to the farmer’s market!
Weekend grocery shopping can be a chore. Meanwhile, the local farmer’s market is outside, offers seasonal produce and is more often than not, an experience that feels more fun than standing in line at the grocery store.
5. Learn to say “no”
This sounds silly but it’s actually more important than you think. Our modern workload is often backfilled with after work meetings, after hour zoom presentations with life insurance firms, etc, etc. Learn to say “no” more often and prioritize self-care. Take your 5 p.m. back and go for a much needed walk. Again, it sounds silly but the benefits could be endless to your health and wellness.
Learn more about Restore Red Light Therapy.