We are all spending more time than ever before in our homes and, particularly in the winter months, it can feel as though you have artificial lights on for most of the day even when it’s light outside.
One study conducted in Australia and shared by the Sydney Morning Herald has highlighted the issues we face from having too much artificial light in our properties.
According to the research, the average home in Australia was so bright that it suppressed melatonin production by almost 50 per cent. Why is that important? Well, melatonin is what naturally controls our sleep patterns.
Before the introduction of artificial lighting, our melatonin levels would rise when the sun went down, sending us to sleep, and lower as the sun rose, waking us up. The introduction of artificial light has altered how our bodies produce melatonin, however.
Natural light is, therefore, an important aspect that should be considered in the construction of new homes and offices, as it has such an impact on our bodies and how they function.
As the Irish News explained recently, some architects are looking at housing design differently and, instead of sticking to the idea that houses should have standard sized and equally spaced windows, they are looking at how to maximise the natural daylight that enters a property.
The publication noted that well-designed architectural homes “employ windows and modern, energy-efficient glazing of all shapes and sizes, in locations to either let daylight flood in, capture a view or bring the outside exterior space into the home”.
The use of energy-efficient glazing is essential, because if you have larger and more windows, you need to ensure that your home isn’t going to lose excessive amounts of heat during the colder months of the year, or get too hot when it’s warmer.
Offices, too, have transitioned towards providing people with more natural light and larger windows, but without the correct glazing products there can be a similar issue in terms of heat loss and solar gain.
Fitting a solar reflective glass film, either to your home or business property, can mitigate many of these problems, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of more natural daylight without the potential downsides that come from having larger windows.
As the Irish Times noted, there is yet another benefit to providing sufficient daylight in all of our buildings – it saves energy.
“Effective day lighting means less reliance on electricity to provide artificial lighting while sunlight can contribute towards meeting some of the heating needs through controlled passive solar gain,” the publication stated.
In terms of how our lighting is impacting our bodies, the researchers in Australia have recommended that we darken our homes before we go to bed to improve the quality of our rest. This can be particularly beneficial for anyone who is suffering from sleep problems, they suggested.
We also know that a lack of exposure to daylight in the winter can contribute to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), so creating homes and offices that do a better job of introducing natural light could benefit a significant number of people.