Bringing more natural light into our daily lives may be more important for our health than we realize. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is known to be related to how much sunlight we receive. Individuals with SAD may experience emotional depression, a drop in physical energy, increased appetite, and increased need for sleep.
According to WebMD Medical News, our mood is influenced by a complex web of relationships among sunlight, melatonin (the sleep hormone) and serotonin (the hormone associated with wakefulness and elevated mood). As darkness falls, our melatonin levels naturally increase. And as the morning light emerges, melatonin levels decrease.
Serotonin levels increase when we are exposed to bright lighta major reason why moods tend to be more elevated during the summer. This hormone is the basis of todays most popular and successful antidepressant drugs, called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs work by helping naturally produced serotonin stay in the bloodstream longer, keeping our mood and energy levels higher.
It is known that bright-light therapy can bring benefits to people with SAD because light affects the melatonin-serotonin system and elevates mood. In fact, some researchers are concluding that light therapy may help to alleviate SAD symptoms faster than antidepressant drugs. In a review of clinical trials of light therapy, Dr. Daniel Kripke and his colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, reported that light therapy benefits not only SAD patients but also people suffering from other forms of depression.
Joe Patrick, product manager for VELUX America, points out that sunlight enters our homes through windows, doors and skylights. Skylights admit 30 percent more light than vertical windows in dormers, and provide the drama of a sky view that cant be achieved with vertical windows, Patrick says. And while increasing our exposure to healthful natural light, skylights, which can also provide ventilation, offer much more privacy without taking up valuable wall space that can be used for decorating or storage.
For more information the benefits of natural light and skylight selection, call (800) 283-2831 or visit www.veluxusa.com. For government information about window and skylight energy efficiency visit www.energystar.gov, and for independent agency information visit www.nfrc.org or www.efficientwindows.org.
From the Dec. 21-27, 2005, issue