Are you light deficient?

March 04, 2016 0 Comments

Are you light deficient?

How much time do you spend outdoors in natural sunlight? I've been pondering this question and the impact of the answer on our health since our recent holiday in Fiji.

I have noticed a distinct relationship between how well we sleep as a family and traveling. It sounds so lame but hear me out. When we are abroad we spend most of our time outdoors sigh seeing, enjoy the beaches, walking around because we don't have our car and generally enjoying life as we were designed to.There is also much less screen time because of poor access to the internet and because we make a conscious decision to switch off.

We return home to the comfort of our homes, cars, offices, classrooms, and child care centers, spending less and less time in natural environments and more in artificial light and processed air. The result, for me anyway, is anxiety, agitation, stress and unexplained fatigue.

I write this post today from beautiful Bribie Island. It is a lovely and oh so rare occasion when hubby and I get to work together. Nothing nutrition related, we are shooting a TV commercial for RACQ. We are both sitting outside (well actually hubby has just decided to take a nap on a bench), at our laptops catching up on work. There is no air conditioning, no radios, no TV in the background, just the sound of birds, bugs and the gentle woosh of the sea. I won't lie, it feels seriously good to be outside, and I wonder why we don't do it more often, especially when we have the luxury of working from home.

Online health guru Dr Mercola recently explored this idea of light impacting your health, and noted that the quality of your sleep has a lot to do with light too.

According to him, light serves as a major synchroniser of something called your master clock. This master clock is a group of cells in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). As a group, these nuclei synchronise to the light-dark cycle of your environment when light enters the eye. This master clock synchronises with the environment and your body will synchronise with the master clock.

In our not too distant past, people experienced greater exposure to non-artificial light only during the day between sunrise and sunset. With the advent of light bulbs, TVs, smart phones and other electronic gadgetry, we're exposed to a lot more "artificial" light over a 24-hour period, and a lot less darkness.

This completely disturbs your circadian rhythms altering your

  • behavior cognition, and mood
  • physiological and cellular functions

This might explain why shift workers, for example, are known to have four- to five-folds higher rates of cancer than the average population. They also have higher rates of obesity and diabetes. But you may not have to be a classic shift worker to increase your risk for these conditions.

Because most of us spend a larger portion of the day indoors, which puts you in a state of "light deficiency." According to Dr Mercola's article, to get the bare minimum of light requirements going outside for just half an hour at lunch time can provide you with the majority of light you need to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. The ideal time to go outdoors is right around solar noon but any time during daylight hours is useful. The bonus is that you will also get your vitamin D requirements for optimum health.

So if you're struggling with sleep disorders, fatigue, anxiety, irritability and spend most of your life indoors why not try a personal experiment and get outside (in nature if possible) for a minimum of 30 mins a day. It most definitely can't hurt.

Would love to hear about your experiences with this.

 

 

 

 






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