How light affects our day-to-day life

Our weekly routine directly connected with light exposure.

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In the smart future, every aspect of our lives will be digitised and optimised, including light and our relationship with it. Asli Okar, the marketing manager of Philips Lighting in the Middle East discusses the development of lighting and how it will affect our day to day life in the future.

Light, whether natural or artificial, affects all life on our planet. It is more than just a source of vitamin D for us humans. Philips has recently compiled in a white paper key insights from more than 10 years of ongoing research about the effects of light on our sleep/wake cycle, or what is known as our “circadian rhythm”.

It reveals that the amount and quality of light you are exposed to every day may be responsible for how you feel when you wake, ultimately dictating whether you are more of a morning person or a night owl.

Light plays a crucial role in regulating our circadian rhythm, which is one of our natural biorhythms commonly known as our body clock.

Our body clock is not naturally in sync with our artificial clock. It is slightly slower, running for 24 hours and 30 minutes on average, which means we are naturally inclined to sleep and wake 30 minutes later each day.

If this slower rhythm is not regulated by the end of the week our sleep/wake cycle could be off by more than two hours.

Because of our 9 to 5 lifestyle, we may be getting too little sleep during the working week and sleeping in during the weekends. More sleep at the weekend may compensate for any lack of rest, but can reset a later circadian rhythm the following week, resulting in that “Sunday morning blues” feeling.

Are you aware of the term social jet lag? This is a term coined by researchers to describe how you feel when you reset your sleep/wake cycle but are required to wake earlier to meet daily responsibilities. Like jet lag, you can feel groggy on Sunday morning if your weekend activities have reset your cycle to a later rhythm. Exposing yourself to the right quality of light at the same time each day and night can regulate and synchronize your natural body clock to the clock on your bedside table.

In today’s world, alarm clocks help to manage the time lag created by our slower circadian rhythm.

But looking back into history, humans, like most animals, used the sun and the amount of light during different times of the day to regulate our body clock; this was natural and the human body did this without realising it. The reason being, specific quality of light hitting the photoreceptors in our eyes not only regulates our internal body clock, but can actually reset it every single day.

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