Light up my life: Why humans need light

There’s more to light than fist meets the eye. Although easy to take for granted, it is in fact the essence of our ecosystem. But it doesn’t end there. Did you know light can also boost fertility and ease pain?


Don’t shun the sun

Beware of too much sun, we’re told each summer. While the dangers of skin cancer from unprotected sun exposure are well known, a moderate amount of exposure is good for you. Significantly, sunlight boosts levels of vitamin D, which can prevent or slow down the growth of tumours and even boost survival rates for cancer patients. In fact, up to 90% of vitamin D comes from exposure to sun – diet alone isn’t a good enough source.

A lack of vitamin D is linked to osteoporosis and low levels of bone health and growth, even causing rickets in children, namely soft weak bones, which can become bowed or curved. So grab your sunglasses, soak up some rays and strengthen those bones!


Taking the pain away

A healthy dose of sunshine can help with pain control. Research shows that patients whose beds are on a sunny side of a hospital experience less pain than those whose rooms are in the shade. As well as reduced pain, patients in sunny rooms tend to recover sooner, use fewer painkillers and feel less stressed. One theory is that exposure to sunlight releases serotonin: a feel-good chemical in the brain.


Light boxes

Whether sick or healthy, light definitely affects your mood. According to research, one in four people in Alaska suffers from depression – and it’s mainly caused by a lack of sunlight.

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, increases in higher latitudes where the winter days are short. Light therapy, where you sit close to a device called a light therapy box, can be used to treat SAD. Light therapy can also help treat those who have depression all year round, improving their overall well-being.

Scientists have also discovered that light therapy can lower nighttime agitation in Alzheimer’s patients and reduce symptoms in Parkinson’s patients, including sleeping problems and tremors.



Preparing for the slopes

As an official partner of the German Ski Association (DSV), OSRAM is preparing athletes for a top performance by providing biologically effective light during their pre-season training. OSRAM has developed a special luminaire for the athletes to use each day ahead of competitions. This simulates natural daylight, which is especially beneficial during the dark winter months, making the athletes more alert in the morning and relaxed in the evening.

In addition, a second luminaire reduces the effects of jet lag by giving athletes a “light shower” after travelling through different time zones and bringing their circadian rhythm back into sync.


Keeping us fertile

And finally, sunlight can even improve fertility. High solar activity has been found to increase fertility rates. Furthermore, light can also give men a boost in the bedroom. Research has shown that higher testosterone is boosted by vitamin D. The biggest source? The sun. A light box would have the same affect, but is possibly less romantic!