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Those who live or work in modern homes and buildings may notice a tendency in architecture towards natural light. Large windows, skylights, bright, airy spaces. This is more than a trend: research indicates that natural light helps lower energy use and regulate temperatures, so it's a boon for the pocketbook.

Howest, sunlight has an even more profound effect on health. While sunscreen is still important, spending time each day exposed to natural light has a myriad of health benefits.

Improves Sleep

Most people have a natural body clock or circadian rhythm that guides their daily energy levels. This is what helps people fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.

Unfortunately, fluorescent lighting and blue light from screens can disrupt these patterns, leading to insomnia, oversleeping, and sleeping at the wrong times. Regular exposure to natural sunlight can help regulate sleep and lead to better rest.

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Aids Concentration and Learning

Daylighting, or filling rooms with natural sunlight during the day, has been shown to improve student scores in reading and mathematics: natural light seems to boost energy and productivity.

People are better able to concentrate in areas with exposure to natural light than they are in windowless or artificial light environments. This helps young people especially learn more quickly and better retain information.

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Strengthens Bones

One of the biggest benefits of natural sun exposure is that it helps the body produce vitamin D. Many people have vitamin D deficiency, which is not ideal because this nutrient helps regulate and increase the amount of calcium the human body can absorb. Calcium is necessary for proper bone growth, healing after fractures, and keeping bones healthy.

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Builds Muscle

Most muscles and organs have vitamin D receptors, making sun exposure valuable to many bodily functions. Vitamin D produced through sun exposure can promote muscle growth and make muscle healthier. Strong muscles are essential for preventing falls.

The heart is a muscle as well, and vitamin D helps keep it healthy. This makes sun exposure particularly beneficial for older people, to prevent heart disease and injuries from falling.

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Boosts Immune Response

There's evidence that children who play in the sun have fewer respiratory infections. Adults with higher levels of vitamin D report fewer cold and flu symptoms, and overall health appears to trend upward during the summer months.

Active vitamin D gained through natural light helps the immune system produce essential proteins while lowering harmful inflammatory responses. This may be beneficial in treating autoimmune diseases like MS and diabetes.

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Protects Eyesight

Most people learn as children not to stare directly into the sun. But while direct natural light can damage the eyes, ambient natural light is essential to proper eye development.

It causes less strain on the eyes than artificial light, and it stimulates the production of hormones that help the eye maintain its proper shape. Without these hormones, many people develop astigmatism and near-sightedness.

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Encourages Movement

A study of office workers found that those who worked in environments with plenty of natural light were more physically active. This may be due to the higher energy and better sleep patterns from their better-lit environment.

Regular exercise has a wealth of benefits, including healthier bones and muscles, a lower risk of disease, and better mental health.

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Reduces Headaches

Many headaches, especially in the workplace, are caused or exacerbated by harsh light. The glare of computer screens and fluorescent bulbs can cause eyestrain and tax the muscles around the eyes, leading to tenderness and throbbing.

Natural sunlight is far gentler on the eyes and can also contribute to lower blood pressure and better sleep, which reduce the risk of headache even further.

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Brightens Mood

Light therapy is a common treatment for many mental health issues. Seasonal affective disorder, depression, and even dementia can be reduced by regular exposure to natural light through windows or a lightbox.

Workers also report being happier in offices with plenty of sunlight. Natural light boosts the production of serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin, which help regulate mood and promote feelings of well-being.

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Prevents Chronic Illness

Increasing research is linking vitamin D and regular sunlight exposure to lower risks of heart disease, autoimmune disease, and certain types of cancer. People who live in darker, colder climates with fewer hours of sunlight tend to develop more heart problems and incidences of colon cancer.

There are many factors in the development of chronic illness, and related causes like exercise, diet, and pollution may also be responsible. The health-boosting effects of sunlight, however, do seem to be correlated with lower risk, and it may also contribute to a greater ability to recover from severe disease.

The light streaming through your window can be helped or hindered by the curtains you choose! Check out The Habitat's article for ideas on how to best frame those vital light providers!

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.