Natural light has a whole host of benefits, including the ability to improve moods and boost vitamin D absorption. But, with technological advancements meaning there are fewer reasons for children to spend time outdoors, therefore, it might be time to consider how you can increase the amount of natural light in your home.
Getting kids to play outdoors isn't always easy, especially when there are video games to be played and television shows to watch. But, when they are regularly exposed to less and less natural light, this can lead to serious health problems — both mentally and physically. In fact, natural light is so important to health that Regulation 8 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 makes it a legal requirement for all establishments — including schools — to encourage natural light wherever possible.
However, it's not just schools that should be concerned with the amount of natural light they let in, but also family homes, too. In this article, we will be sharing some of the main benefits that natural light can have for our children.
As parents, you'll be familiar with the morning grumble when you're trying to get the kids out of bed but having ample natural light in their room and around your home can ensure morning moods don’t last.
Natural light is a powerful resource for boosting your mood and therefore encouraging positivity — so much so that a recent study by Maruani and Geoffrey found that bright light is an effective therapy for individuals suffering from depression.
This is certainly an important finding given that NHS statistics for 2017 reported an increase in mental health disorders in children aged 5–19 years old, bringing the total to 12.8% for that year.
Additionally, there is evidence that UV rays from the sun can stimulate melanocytes — the cells responsible for the dark pigment in your skin — these cells also encourage endorphin production, leaving your children feeling good more often.
So, if your child spends a lot of time cooped up in their room, you'll need to ensure that there is enough natural light coming through their windows. If they have an attic room that doesn't currently have sufficient lighting, getting a set of roof windows can be a fantastic solution.
As well as maximising the amount of natural light your little one is exposed to, these also provide great ventilation which is said to be beneficial for your mental health. Plus, roof windows can be fitted with blackout blinds, putting you back in control of when it's bright or dark in your child's room.
As with waking them up on a morning, getting your kids to sleep at night can certainly prove a stressful experience. But natural light has been found to solve some of these issues too and can help enhance sleep quality.
Light dictates our circadian rhythm — the hours we spend awake and asleep — and can have an impact on everything from our metabolism to our body temperature. And, when we aren't exposed to enough of it, our body decides its own pattern to follow which is based on genetics might not be quite right for optimal functioning.
If your child struggles to sleep on a night, it may be because he or she is not being exposed to enough natural light and therefore their body is deciding the sleeping and waking hours for itself.
When natural light is readily available during the day, it can solve problems of insomnia at night by resetting the body and helping it to regulate patterns of sleep and wakefulness.
Sleep is key for growing minds, click here to read our article on how sleep can affect academic performance
Whether they're struggling to get through their homework or are trying to concentrate on their recreational hobbies, like reading, natural light can drive motivation and help your children to get through more and with a better focus. This is because humans are designed to function at their optimum levels during daylight and to sleep when it is dark.
So much research has been done around this topic, with many studies indicating that bright light could have an effect on the ability for us to learn. This was supported by a 2018 study by Soler et al, who found that rats had better cognitive functioning when they had been exposed to daytime light each day. The results of studies like these indicate that when light is removed or not available in the correct quantities, it can disrupt normal functioning and interrupt your child's productivity.
Natural light from the sun emits vitamin D, which is key for growth, calcium absorption, and promotes healthy bone development. It also makes your body more able to fight off any illnesses and diseases, including cancer and heart disease. This means that it's important to try and get your kids to spend as much time outdoors as possible.
Similarly, exposure to natural light can help your child to regulate their body weight, as the blue light emitted by the sun has been found to cause the fat cells beneath the skin to shrink.
This is supported by a report published in the Nature Research journal which suggested that sunlight may be directly related to weight loss.
Natural light is crucial for us all, especially children in their early years of developing both mentally and physically. It's important that your kids spend time out in the fresh air, but also that your home invites enough natural light to benefit them, too. Consider the benefits I've laid out above and introduce some more light for happy and healthy kids!
Written by David Knight from expert roof windows suppliers Roof Windows 4 You, He shares some of his insights from his many years in the industry surrounding the benefits that incorporating natural light into your home can have for your children.