The Impact of Light on Human Health and Welfare
Although light is crucial to human life, it can also be devastating to human life if the light is presented at the wrong time or in a wrong way. Our bodies and minds are sensitive to light, and light is how we are able to tell the time of day and to know when we need sleep, among other things. Artificial light disrupts our body’s natural process and cycle, which can lead to broad health effects. As Laura Beil writes about in her article, any kind of light too late at night could alter sleep-activity patterns, suppress melatonin production, and disregulate genes. People are sleeping less and less every night due to our fast moving culture, and this can cause serious health problems.
One type of health issue that could arise from inadequate lighting is SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) as talked about in Eve Edelstein’s article. This depression has to do with the lack of light that a person is exposed to that may upset their sleep cycle and circadian rhythm that happens around the same time each year. A person’s circadian rhythm is the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that happen every 24 hours and responds to the light and darkness of an environment. This rhythm can easily be messed up by not having enough exposure to light, especially sunlight, or by irregular sleep hours that some professions, like nurses or other 3rd shift workers experience. Most of the health problems, like SAD and an irregular circadian rhythm, or any other issues caused by the lack of light, can be helped with the introduction of light in the correct ways and at the correct times. Light is something that we often take for granted because most of us just don’t know what all it has to offer us.