Good day, how’s the kids?
Today’s entry for 31 Ways to Change State is Light.
Light acts like a drug on our brain.
When the morning sun shines, our brain reduces its production of melatonin, a chemical that makes us sleepy. The brain also begins to produce serotonin, a feel-good and be-alert chemical.
When we use artificial light, we begin messing with the brain’s chemicals and their release schedule.
But not just any light…
Candle light, firelight, and old-school incandescent bulbs create a warm, yellow glow. No problem there.
Maybe you’ve heard the advice to avoid your phone before bed time?
Well, here’s why—
Mobile phones and other screens like television and computers emit blue light.
Our Sun that shines down upon our earth also emits blue, as one of the many colors in its spectrum.
And it’s this blue light that triggers your serotonin in the morning.
The feel-good and be-alert properties of serotonin are so strong, in fact, that blue lights are used in Japan to deter people from
suicide in train stations!
Light’s ability to affect people isn’t limited to Japan, of course.
SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It exhibits itself as seasonal depression. SAD affects over 10% of the population in areas of North America where the winter days are short and people spend a lot of time indoors.
Now, if blue light can change a mood that quickly and that strongly in Japan…
and if a lack of light can cause widespread depression…
think what the light cycles in your life might be doing to you?
Or to put it another way—
How can you harness Light to change your state towards a wakeful morning and daytime, and a peaceful and restful evening?
- Be mindful of your screentime, especially at night. Do you need to zone out on Instagram for 30m before bedtime?
- Build your schedule (and environment) to live in rhythm with the day’s natural light-and-dark cycles.
- How does the office light affect your customers’ and employees’ moods and behaviors?
- How does home light affect bedtime routines with kids or your own?
- Consider getting a “Sun Lamp” to increase your family’s exposure to full-spectrum light that mimics the sun. Here’s a great option on Amazon, one of many, that can turn around the life of someone affected by SAD or general circadian rhythm de-synchronization.
Ok that’s all I have for Friday’s 31 Ways to Change State. Have a good one my friend!
PS If you know people who are up all night playing video games, and then they’re sleepy and grumpy at work, this might be one reason why. If you find this is you, consider some sort of cutoff time for your evening screen time. To be successful, you have to change the behaviors that lead up to the trigger which causes you to pick up the video game.