A Second Look at the Light

A+Second+Look+at+the+Light

As our internal and external clocks adjust to the daylight savings time change, light and its effects are emphasized on the human body. Although longer days allow for extended periods of natural daylight, it is still important to evaluate artificial light sources and their effects on health and wellness. 

 

Saving the Day:

Daylight Saving Time (DST) refers to the period when the clocks are set forward an hour in order to make the most use out of natural light. This period extends from the second Sunday in March to November. The phrases “spring forward, and fall backward” are helpful to define the time shift as the clocks move one hour ahead during the spring and move back one hour during the fall. While it is productive to maximize the use of natural daylight throughout the year, researchers are reevaluating the benefits of DST as they interpret the hardships that can come alongside shifting an individual’s sleep cycle twice a year. 

To some, an hour of sleep might not seem significant, but sleep experts have found that a human’s circadian rhythm, “24-hour cycles that regulate sleep and other key bodily functions such as appetite and mood” is highly dependent on natural light exposure (sleepfoundation.org). Even a slight disruption of the body’s programmed circadian rhythm can lead some to experience symptoms of insomnia, mood disorders, and increased vehicular collisions.

Currently, Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands are the only US areas that have successfully rejected practicing DST. 32 other states are striving to adopt this same legislation to establish DST as the official time for their states year round. 

Some Light Vocabulary:

Brightness- amount of light given off

Saturation- intensity of color

Hue- color or shade

 

Salt Lamps: 

Recently, salt lamps have gained great popularity as the natural salts act as a light conduit, offering potential health and mood benefits. Most salt lamps are carved from pink Himalayan salt that surrounds a lightbulb, but they often vary in size and shape. 

Salt lamps are thought to function by attracting toxins and pollutants to its surface while simultaneously releasing negative ions into the surrounding air. The dim warmth that salt lamps emit is conducive to a healthy sleeping cycle as the calming light encourages the production of melatonin, leading the body to wind down for bed. Also, salt lamps are considered to potentially improve air quality as they purify the air, specifically thought to benefit individuals with chronic respiratory conditions. Some believe that the impacts of negative ions reach into mood and behavioral responses, encouraging the human body to release more serotonin which is a chemical related with mood regulation. However, studies on air ionizers have not clearly supported their supposed benefits towards improving respiratory or physiological functions. 

Although scientists are still doing research to determine the official scientific soundness of these claims, the calming, warm light and appearance of these lamps have been reason enough to establish them in many homes. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Daylight Saving Time – How Time Change Affects Sleep.” Sleep Foundation, 27 Oct. 2020, www.sleepfoundation.org/circadian-rhythm/daylight-saving-time.

Kasprak, Alex. “FACT CHECK: Do Salt Lamps Provide Multiple Health Benefits?” Snopes.com, 24 Dec. 2017, www.snopes.com/fact-check/salt-lamps-cure-everything/.

“The Psychological Impact of Light & Color: TCP Lighting Solutions.” TCP Lighting, 6 Nov. 2020, www.tcpi.com/psychological-impact-light-color/#:~:text=It%20can%20improve%20mood%20and,as%20reaction%20time%20and%20activation.