The Sun’s light is a necessity. Natural sunlight is good for you in amounts that do not cause burns. Natural sunlight on your skin causes the skin to produce vitamin D3, which is actually a prohormone that is vital for the absorption of calcium by the body. Vitamin D3 is needed for development of healthy bones and is also vital for proper muscle function.
But is artificial light good for you? Well, “probably not,” according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, “exposure to certain types of electric light before bed and at night can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.”
Our body runs on an “internal clock” that is regulated by light. Darkness and light trigger different chemicals in our brain to say either it”s time to sleep or it”s time to get up. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that regulates the body’s circadian rhythm. Melatonin production slows or ceases during daylight hours and picks up as the lights dim or darkness falls. Melatonin is what causes you to sleep. Another substance in the pineal gland is called corpora arenacea, sometimes referred to as “brain sand” hence, when you get tired “the Sandman” gets you.
Too much light, whether artificial or natural, (think Alaska”s never ending days of summer where the sun doesn’t go down for 82 days, or working third shift under bright lights then trying to sleep at home with the shades open), prevents the production of melatonin and so disrupts natural sleep patterns. Besides sleep, melatonin is a key hormone in anti-hypertensive and anti-platelet effects pertaining to heart health. So, too much light is actually bad for your heart as well as keeping you awake at night.
However, there are some instances where artificial light is good for you. SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, affects approximately 6% of the population, primarily in the northern climates. SAD is a condition of seasonal depression brought on by the shorter days of winter. Without enough light, melatonin production is extended and brings on the melancholy effects of SAD. Light box therapy often helps relieve these symptoms. Studies have shown that between 60 and 80 percent of SAD sufferers benefit from light box therapy.
Some artificial light however, is just plain not good for you. UV, or ultra violet rays are the harmful “ingredient” in sunlight. This is what causes the skin to tan and is also a leading cause of skin cancer. Tanning beds utilize this type of artificial light to produce the “perfect tan” that many crave, but what they may fail to realize is that besides a tan, they are also increasing their chances of skin cancer and even eye damage.
Over exposure to the UV rays of tanning beds have been known to cause cataracts, and also conditions called pterygium, which is abnormal tissue growth on the cornea, or the “white” of the eye, and also macular degeneration, which is damage to the retina, which is basically the lining of your eyeball. So it would seem as with anything else, moderation is the key.
In the winter a small dose of tanning bed could chase away the blues, but never being away from light will have a negative effect on your sleeping habits. Sunlight is a must for overall health, and there is just no substitute for the real thing.