Ambient Light and Mental Health
Stop the presses, is this recent study from the Ohio State University Medical Center saying what I think they’re saying–that our moods and mental health would potentially improve if we unplugged at night and limited long periods of artificial, dim light? This study most definitely got my attention!
Last year, the American Medical Association (AMA) “evaluated the impact of artificial lighting on human health, primarily through disruption of circadian biological rhythms or sleep.” They found that the natural, 24-hour progression of our body’s cycle of light to dark helped maintain our biological rhythms, was a Scientists “found that hamsters with chronic exposure to dim light at night showed signs of depression within just a few weeks.” Some of the symptoms included: reduced physical activity compared with hamsters living without dim light at night along with “changes in the brain’s hippocampus that are similar to brain changes seen in depressed people.”
This certainly doesn’t mean we need to go down with the sun, but it does mean that our mental health has the potentiality to improve with less screen time. Unplugging at night will help us get our bodies back to their natural light-dark schedule—the schedule we are born with and which we fight and alter as soon as we realize there are interesting things happening around us!
This is an opportunity to start a new path of self-care. If you watch TV at night, how about watching a little less? Does Facebook call to you after 9? Don’t answer for a night and see how you feel. We only think we are missing something. The truth is, things slow down after hours. This is a chance to redefine how we have fun while learning to take care of ourselves. Our mental health becomes an invaluable asset and one that should be nurtured.
Here’s a challenge. Unplug after 8 for a week and journal your feelings about it. I’d love to hear of any insights or discoveries you have! You can email me at [email protected] or leave a comment here.