The Importance of Natural Light

Danny is a masters architecture student, currently studying how architecture can help in leading a fulfilling life for people living with dementia and carers

Natural light is important for everyone’s wellbeing for many reasons, improving both our mental and physical health, here are some reasons: 

1.      Body Clock (Circadian rhythm) 

Having a strong connection to the sun and the time of day allows us to get into better routines with our body, improving our sleeping patterns, the way we metabolise food and all sorts of things going on inside of us which we’re not aware of.

2.      Bones, Muscles, Immune and Nervous Systems 

Vitamin D comes from the sun, as well as other foods and drinks. This vitamin is essential in keeping your bones healthy as well as having a role in your nervous, muscles and immune systems. Having enough of it can also reduce tiredness and fatigue, which are often felt more in the winter months. 

3.      Improved Mood

Studies have shown that serotonin, the chemical in our brain which is mostly responsible for our mood, is released more on a bright and sunny day, than on a cloudy one. So, sunlight can be a helpful way to improve our mood. 

Now for some tips on how to get more natural light into your homes: 

1.      Open Curtains and Blinds

Make sure they’re fully open to optimise light and open any net curtains on cloudy days if they are not needed for privacy. 

2.      Remove Obstacles Inside of the Window

If you have any large decorations, posters in the window, or even a piece of furniture which blocks light into the room, try moving these to a different location to maximise light levels.

3.      Remove Obstacles Outside of the Window

Sometimes trees, bushes, or climbing plants can block light coming into the house. If possible, see whether you can cut them back. 

4.      Spend More Time in Rooms with Good Natural Light

Depending on which way your house faces, you may find certain rooms are lighter than others at different times of the day. If it does not interrupt your normal routine, try to move rooms to follow the sun throughout the day.

5.      Position Yourself Closer to Windows

Try to position furniture that you spend more time in, for example, an armchair, closer to the window if possible without changing the room too drastically. 

6.      If Redecorating, Use Light Colours

Light pastel coloured walls are more reflective, making a space feel open and airy, which helps to maximise the effect created by natural light. Dark colours can absorb light, making a room feel smaller.

7.      Be Aware of Shadows and Glare

Too much natural light can also be a problem. Any direct sunlight coming into the house on a bright day can cause a visual disturbance, when there is a big contrast between lights and darks. To reduce glare and dark shadows, draw a net curtain or turn the blinds slightly, but avoid closing the curtains completely.

8.      Get Outside

The best way to get all the benefits of sunlight is to spend a bit of time outside every day. Our skin doesn’t absorb vitamin D unless we are out in direct sunlight, so if it is a sunny day, encourage yourself to get out in the sun, but make sure to bring the sun cream if it’s a scorcher!