How has your sleep been recently? Is it hard for you to fall asleep in the evening before midnight? Can you open your eyes in the morning without the required cup of coffee; are you often excited and nervous? Especially in winter, one of the factors that affects us most is the lack of enough daylight.
A few years ago, the influence of artificial illumination seemed not to be so strong. However, through the growing use of economical light bulbs and the appearance of laptops, tablets or smart phones at every home and pocket things are getting complicated.
Think – every minute of the day we are exposed to an artificial light source. All of us know we feel better out of the urbanized environment polluted by radiation.
Main artificial light sources:
Screen radiation: television sets, monitors, tablets, smart phones.
Artificial lighting: offices, shops, commercial centers, advertising signs.
Domestic lamps with energy-sufficient (economical) light bulbs.
Unfortunately, because of the urban way of living we have chosen and our constant commitment and desire of being informed 24/7, the crushing harmful effect on our bodies caused by noise, light and electric field cannot be avoided for long time.
A separated problem is the excessive illumination of different plant such as commercial centers and offices where the intensity of the super strong lighting oppresses unnecessarily human brain and psyche.
Potential dangers coming from the use of fluorescent lamps:
The so called “economical” light bulbs have appeared relatively recently and due to some controversial decisions of the European Union they have managed to take the place of the incandescent light bulbs and now they are widely spread. In fact, several years after the quit of the mass production of the old type of bulbs the effect of the new and energy-sufficient light bulbs (everlasting in theory) was started to be explored.
Soon after it was understood that their aggrandizement is a mistake since the cold artificial light generated by the fluorescent lamps has numerous disadvantages, including the likelihood for this kind of lighting to increase anxiety and depression. To a significant extent it is due to the rather limited spectrum of the light radiated by them.
Fluorescent light bulbs emit radiation, although its levels are low. An additional “extra” is the visual impairment in the time spent in such kind of lighting as it is emitted by fits and starts, through vibration similar to that of the old CRT-monitors. Human eyes are easy to be deceived that light is steady, but brains feel the vibration subconsciously and it damages normal visual and perceptive processes.
The light of the incandescent light bulbs has similar effects. Nevertheless, it is still everywhere – a fact which is mostly due to its low cost.
The imperfect spectrum is not only an enemy of human vision. The harmful spectrum also oppresses our brains and makes us inadequate. And the vibrations of the artificial illumination affect our nervous systems, psyche, adequate thinking.
Unlike fluorescent lamps, halogen lamps and incandescent light bulbs do not need waiting to reach their complete lighting capacity. Furthermore, they are not as dependent on the frequency of switching on and off as the modern bulbs.
As far as environment is concerned, modern lamps are not very useful as in Bulgaria there is no electronic waste recycling plant, and in this type of modern light bulbs there are a lot of electronic components.
Besides, they contain a significant amount of mercury which makes them potentially dangerous in case of breaking.
How can we reduce the harmful impact of artificial illumination?
At least at home try to replace all CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) with halogen ones whose influence is significantly more acceptable and the light they emit is warm and in a colour spectrum very similar to that of the sunlight.
Look for the natural light. Spend as much time as it is possible outdoors in order to ensure your body the opportunity to synthesize the extremely useful vitamin D. There is nothing more useful for your good health than the natural sunlight. That is why you have to be exposed to it more often.
Each occasion to spend time outdoors is good. Switch off the lamps during the day and try to restrict the time spent in watching your monitors, computers and phone screens. If you can afford replacing your laptop and the monitor of your computer with higher quality ones (which are often more expensive), then do it.
Try to get up earlier in the morning and go to bed earlier in the evening, preferably every day at the same time. Never keep a computer, laptop or TV set in the room where you will sleep.
Artificial illumination, especially when it is of low quality, leads to depression, a weakened immune system and other health problems. Social isolation, alcoholism, depression and readiness to suicide are coincidentally spread among northern nations as the sunlight in the northern parts of the globe is not enough.
The problem is not that they do not have money for lighting; on the contrary, they are the richest economically and technologically developed states. What is paradoxical for most people is that the happiest peoples live in economically poor but rich in sun countries. We absorb the light around us, we soak it in and it feeds our energy. The more time we spend in real light, the happier we will be; try it yourself and see!
One thought on “The Dark Side of Artificial Lights: How Artificial Lighting Affects Our Health”
The reason that compact fluorescent lighting has taken off is because it uses much less energy than a halogen or incandescent lighting. If we are to transition to a renewable energy infrastructure that doesn’t contaminate our planet, then reducing energy usage is the cheapest and fastest way to do that. The switch away from halogen and incandescent lighting is the simplest and most cost-effective measure that anyone can take.
New LED lighting uses much less energy than all of the above and can be, and is increasingly built to have a full spectrum. The spectrum of light available is what is important.
You’re correct that compact fluorescent lights have a vibration that emits an incomplete spectrum of light. It is the full spectrum that we should seek. It’s not available through our screens but through sunlight. But thankfully LED lighting is the solution that can keep our planet and our brains/bodies/spirits happy.