What gets you up in the morning?
It’s not your annoying alarm clock if you’re the type of person to hit snooze one, two, or three times. It’s not your dog if you just let him out and crawl back in bed until he starts barking at the door. It’s not the exciting project that you’ve been working on if you allow yourself an extra hour of rest before getting started on it. So what wakes you up, and what gets you out of bed in the morning? Simply put, the sun–the Earth’s most natural source of light.
What Makes Sunlight Important?
Sunshine actually turns off our body’s natural sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. When it’s dark out, our pineal gland starts producing the hormone melatonin, which you are probably familiar with seeing in capsule form on the grocery aisle shelves or broadcast in the media for insomnia. Melatonin prevents us from developing the energy required to go about our day!
If we are exposed to darkness for too long, like our friends in Alaska that have two weeks of total darkness in the winter, or in the northern most parts of Canada, our melatonin production can turn on overdrive, inhibiting the production of Vitamin D, resulting in depression, too much sleep, and lack of energy.
Like melatonin, you’re probably familiar with Vitamin D, and all the hype around it being an essential nutrient for the body and mind. Vitamin D is not used directly by the body, but indirectly as it regulates calcium and phosphate. The big slogan for calcium is “Strengthen your bones!” If we don’t receive enough Vitamin D, our bones (teeth included) can become weak and fragile, as the body does not absorb the calcium. So without Vitamin D, we grow weak.
Vitamin D also produces energy as it activates our energy generating cell components. These cells deliver energy to our muscles. Without Vitamin D, we cannot generate this necessary energy, resulting in fatigue.
While Vitamin D deficiencies are rare in places like Arizona and San Diego, people in other places may be more subject to a deficiency, especially if you prefer to stay indoors and don’t supplement. The truth is, we can never have too much of this natural nutrient! Supplementing it can be dangerous long term in higher doses, so instead we look at getting it from its natural source, the sun.
Benefits of Natural Light
Other than the essential intake of natural vitamins, natural light can benefit you in more ways than one. For one, it saves energy and so will save you money on your electricity bill.
Second, if you work in a place with natural light, you might experience increased productivity. We get enough synthetic light looking at computer screens and phones anyway. Who would say no to natural light in the office?
Third, say bye-bye to season depression and other unexpected mood swings!
Fourth, we live in rhythms and cycles, such as the circadian rhythm. When in rhythm, we experience better sleep due to a decrease in stress.
Fifth, when we let light inside, having the sun shine through windows kills bacteria. Some studies suggest that diffused light through closed windows is just as effective as UV lights. Is there a link between a lack of sunlight weakening your body and making you ill with an increased exposure to bacteria?
It’s understandable that as the seasons change and the temperatures fluctuate to too hot or too cold, getting outdoors may seem less appealing. So whether you are trying to soak up as much as you can in the warmer months or still receive it inside in the colder months, there are ways to make your indoors sunnier.
According to Feng Shui experts, south-facing windows are the most ideal for letting in the most amount of sun (and family harmony, bonus!). So if your windows are facing north, you might consider installing windows on the south walls and even a skylight. Morning sun will come in through the east, and the setting sun through the West.
If you have ever worked in the afternoon sun, you probably remember it being brutal on your skin and even just mental well-being. Any windows in your house that face West should be small or covered. You can get window shutters for your home to help block out some of the light. Shutters are great to have at night for extra privacy. Also, consider your current curtain choice. Are they transparent, even slightly? Choose curtains that filter sun in, rather than blocking it out.
Remember, the sun is what wakes you up and begins to warm your house after a cool night, so prioritizing these shutters will help to regulate temperature in the home, as Vitamin D does calcium in the body.
If it seems a bit out of reach to install new windows, don’t worry, there are other options to let natural light into your home!
Although color trends for houses change every year, one color always seems to be considered “acceptable”: white. Not only is it always in style, painting your walls white will reflect the light which comes in through your doors and windows, and project it in all directions of your home.
Other things you can paint white include porches, roof overhangs, and window sills. The type of paint you use also matters, as some have more reflective abilities, such as gloss. A glossier finish will act as a mirror, reflecting that sunlight even more.
Speaking of mirrors, you can use decorative wall hangings of mirrors, glass frames, metallic items, and other shiny decor to create that same reflective effect. The light will bounce off these objects, shedding light on more of your household.
This doesn’t stop at wall hangings, however, it can also be in tiles. Consider adding some reflective accents to increase your sunlight intake.
Now that the sun is entering your home, allow it to reflect into your kitchen, bedroom and bathroom in the morning, or wherever you spend the most amount of time, and positioning things like your bed, your mirror, and your stove in the way of indirect or direct sunlight, guarantees the best absorption. It’s a bonus if you can place your bed against an eastern-facing window. The sunrise can be an inspiring wake up call to get out of bed!
Not to mention, according to RH Homes, natural light in the kitchen can lead to healthier eating decisions! It’s truly a win-win-win.
If you work from home, positioning your desk in the intersecting light beams of your work hours (until the sun sets in the west), will allow you to continue soaking up sun throughout the day.
There are many ways to manage your lighting for dimmer and brighter settings when sunlight is not present. You can hang beautifully designed cloth over your lights, install light dimmers and motion sensors, or swap out your traditional light bulbs for colored lights (have you heard of color therapy?).
You can switch to LED lights, which give off a brighter light and are more energy efficient, transition from single-light hangings to multiple, or simply install more lights in more places.
The sun is going to be your most important guest this season! Using one, all, or a variation of these methods is going to leave you feeling energized, strong and happy in your home. You might even begin to look forward to waking up in the morning as your relationship with the sun comes more appreciative!