The Rhythm of Life and Light
How do sunlight and artificial light influence your circadian rhythm and why is that important?
We have evolved to live in sync with the Sun and even though our modern lives might demand differently, our bodies and minds are still oriented towards the rhythm of natural light. Especially in the city and in winter we can feel how a lack of direct sunlight affects us, a use case, we at Shadowmap are passionate about. Light has a significant impact on our lives and health, and, fortunately, it’s not complicated to tune in with this natural rhythm.
First things first - What is a circadian rhythm? This term from chronobiology describes natural and internal processes within the daily 24 hour cycle. These processes originate within an organism and respond to the environment, like the sleep/wake cycle in accordance to light and darkness.
Sleep cannot be substituted! Well, coffee works to some extent, but we all know stimulants merely delay the effects of a sleep deficit. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep is crucial for good health. It helps us recover well, relieve stress, boost our immune function and just feel good on every level.
By now, we have all heard of melatonin, and how this hormone is a key player in our sleep cycle. Light regulates the melatonin balance, among many other processes. So what does this mean in practice?
How to find a good rhythm with the Sun
It’s actually very simple: Try to get sunlight in the morning to fully wake up, as well as before sunset to induce good sleep.
On a cloudless morning 10 minutes should do the trick, on cloudy days you will need at least 30 minutes of natural outdoor light. If you are not able to get sunlight in the morning, you can at least turn on bright lights to kickstart your body clock, however, outdoor light is preferable.
Sidenote: Your body may not be able to read this signal properly while wearing sunglasses, as the sensory cells which are responsible for reading this signal are located on the eye’s retina.
After your evening dose of Sun, bright lights and most importantly blue light, will keep you awake and make it more difficult to get a good night’s rest. Try avoiding them from about 10pm to 4am, if you can. Lastly, during sleep, complete darkness is favorable.
For the nappers out there: While darkness is not a prerequisite for a good nap, try not to exceed 30 minutes a day, as you may end up confusing your body! Setting an alarm is advised.
Gadgets to help you adapt
There are many tools out there to help us navigate the gap between natural rhythms and modern lives – daylight lamps, dimmers and blue light blocking software or glasses for the evening and of course, yours truly, Shadowmap.
We understand the importance of sunlight for human health, in fact this is the very reason the idea for Shadowmap was born. On a dark and cold winter day as a Sun-deficient programmer in the city, a light went on in Georg’s head.
We want you to use Shadowmap for your wellbeing as well. Use the app to find sunlight, it’s easy and free to use on the current day!