Unveiling the Modern Day Epidemic: Darkness Deficiency and Natural Light DeficiencyJul 25, 2023
In today's fast-paced, technology-driven world, the subtle yet essential elements of darkness and natural light are gradually slipping away from our daily lives.
Our modern lifestyle, marked by long hours indoors, excessive screen time, and artificial lighting, has led to what can be termed as "Darkness Deficiency" and "Natural Light Deficiency."
Artificial Light encompasses various sources, including outdoor lighting such as street and field lights, car headlights, and display advertising, as well as indoor lighting like room lights and digital signage, as well as household and electronic devices, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Let's explore the profound impact of this modern-day epidemic on our physical and mental well-being, shedding light on the importance of embracing the natural rhythms of earth, light and darkness for optimal health.
Wang et al (2023) share that light pollution can also contribute to air pollution and global warming due to the energy waste caused by poorly designed or excessive usage of lights. Energy waste from excessive lighting can result in the unnecessary use of fossil fuels for generating electricity that emits air pollutants such as SO2, NO2, and CO2.
Although there are different worldwide regional regulations and standards concerning light pollution, very few of these are based on the potential contribution of improper lighting to diseases.
Darkness Deficiency: The Consequences of Light Pollution
With the prevalence of artificial lighting, our bodies are increasingly exposed to an unending stream of light, even during the night. This constant exposure disrupts our natural circadian rhythm, negatively affecting genes, energy homeostasis, sleep quality and quantity, hormone regulation, increasing risks of cancer, obesity, skin and other diseases, mood disorders, alterations in spermatogenesis, ocular structures, thermoregulation, changes in daily life behaviours, and overall health. This is serious stuff!
consider also the detrimental effects to soil health - artificial light exposure disturbs urban soil microbial community structure and functions... this is very interrelated with our planetary AND individual health. These create both short and long-term consequences..
In 2016, Artificial Light at Night (ALAN) covered 25% of the world’s land area and more than 80% of people were exposed to it. That was almost 10 years ago since that study was completed, so with burgeoning population sprawls and economy scaling we can only assume it is even more than that now! Shiftworkers are particularly high risk, although recent research now points to ALAN as a risk factor in optimal growth and development, and partly to blame for childhood obesity and metabolic abnormalities.
The Power of Natural Light: Embracing the Sun's Healing Rays
While we often underestimate the impact of natural light on our health, research reveals that exposure to sunlight is ABSOLUTELY essential for our well-being. It impacts vitamin D synthesis, immune function, mood regulation, and the promotion of healthy sleep-wake cycles that dictate foundational levels of cell communication and function. From supporting bone health to reducing the risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), natural light plays a pivotal role in nurturing our physical and emotional health. Add in natural skin based touch to the Earth's surface and you are truly winning!
Reclaiming the Night: The Need for Darkness for Restorative Sleep
Darkness is not merely the absence of light; it serves a critical purpose in allowing our bodies to rest and recharge during sleep. Accessing natural light at both dawn and dusk (and particularly dawn if you have sleep issues) is VERY powerful for reclaiming a restorative sleep.
Also VIP is to create a dark sleep environment to optimise the production of the sleep and antioxidant hormone melatonin (plus enough dietary zinc, b6, magnesium). From using blackout curtains to limiting electronic device usage before bedtime, having a cool sleep environment and great ventilation are small changes can have a significant impact on our sleep quality.
Overcoming Light Addiction: Balancing Screen Time and Sunlight Exposure
With the ever-increasing dependence on digital devices, we explore the concept of "Light Addiction" and its impact on our mental and emotional well-being. Choose to implement practical strategies to strike a healthy balance between screen time and exposure to natural light, allowing a reconnection with the world beyond the digital realm.
Nurturing Our Relationship with Nature: The Healing Power of Outdoor Exposure
Spending time in nature not only exposes us to natural light but also offers numerous benefits for our physical and mental health. I cannot overexplain the importance of incorporating outdoor activities into our daily routine, whether it's a leisurely stroll in the park, gardening or an adventure-filled hike in the mountains.
Embracing darkness (candle-lit dinners, anyone?!) and reconnecting with natural light are vital components of our well-being, yet they are often overlooked in our modern lifestyle.
Recognising the consequences of darkness and natural light deficiency empowers us to take proactive steps towards prioritizing restful sleep, reducing screen time, and spending more time outdoors.
By harmonising with the natural rhythms of light and darkness, we pave the way for enhanced physical and mental health, rediscovering the healing power of the world beyond our illuminated screens.
Are there any creative ways you've incorporated "darkness time" into your daily routine to enhance your body's natural sleep-wake cycle? Please share your unique strategies with my FB community!