Why do we need daylight?
We humans have for most parts of human history been a species whose evolution has adapted to the natural environments around us. Views of nature and access to daylight are two important factors at, for example, work environments, but they are also physiologically connected to our well-being and our health. Therefore, daylight is the strongest external signal man has to adjust our inner clock. But how good are we at exploiting this natural source?
Why does the body need daylight?
There are multiple both physiological and psychological factors to why humans need daylight. Among other things, there is research that states that there are natural antidepressant ingredients in daylight that helps humans to synchronize with the natural circadian rhythm. For example, the risk for winter depression may decrease if you expose yourself to direct daylight. The production of the hormones cortisol and melatonin is controlled by daylight and affects the human 24-hour rhythm. When the melatonin level rises, it tells the body to go to bed, while cortisol is what makes us wake up or stay awake. Therefore it is important for both our well-being and our health that we get the daylight we need.
How does the indoor environment affect humans?
The average population in Sweden spends about 90% of their days indoors. This has given daylight for our well-being a greater role, which places demands on good light transmission in our indoor environments. Both short-term and long-term health issues can be reduced by such a simple measure as letting in more daylight. One of the largest energy consumers today is electric lightning. From an environmental perspective, a reduction of electric lighting is therefore necessary for a sustainable society.
Do we become more productive by daylight?
The connection between the level of daylight and productivity is something that many researchers have conducted studies on. These studies focused mainly on occupations that normally have their working days indoors, such as shop workers, office workers and industrial workers. How did they react to an increased supply of daylight? Well, the studies showed that in workplaces with a large supply of daylight, productivity increased by up to 15%. There are also other studies that state that the feeling of indoor comfort increases with the correct amount of natural daylight.
The same link between daylight and productivity can also be found in the younger audience. Studies have shown that students with a large supply of daylight during their school days have 7-18% better grades than those with less supply of daylight. This indicates that there is also a connection between daylight and learning.
What happens to the body when we don´t get enough daylight?
If we humans are not exposed to enough daylight, it can affect our level of stress, our mood swings and our ability to sleep. Therefore, it is common for our health problems to increase during the winter, such as seasonal depression and various sleep problems. For older people, a lack of daylight may even affect their mobility and increase cognitive impairment.
Optimizing our daily routines is crucial for improving our quality of life, everything from how we sleep at night to our stress level and hormones. Getting enough daylight during the morning hours is an important factor. Therefore, the design of the indoor environment regarding windows, views and daylight exposure is of crucial importance.
The light quality in electric lightning is not as beneficial to our health and can therefore not currently replace daylight. Above all, electric light is static and does not provide the same opportunity for views or information about time and weather. Even light that is common in tablets and smartphones, such as blue wavelengths, affects the circadian rhythm and sleep in a negative way.
What happens to the body when we get too much daylight?
Excessive sun exposure for many years can be dangerous as it can damage the retina. In particular, it can be harmful to older people as their ability to repair cells is weakened. This means that damage to the retina can accumulate in the eye and cause various visual difficulties. The ability to repair cells decreases by direct sunlight exposure but can be counteracted with sunglasses and sunscreen. For people who are hyper sensitive to light, an excessive sun exposure can also induce migraine, headaches or epileptic seizures.
As we mentioned earlier, electric light does not have all the health benefits that daylight has. Electric light may in fact even pose a health risk. LED-technology of simpler construction, which is used in, for example, spotlights or light bulbs, has a flicker in it that is not good for humans. However, there is no flicker in well-designed LED luminaires.
Why is it so important with good views?
In different residential environments, access to views and daylight may vary quite a lot. It all depends on, among other things, the size and placement of the windows as well as the design of the urban planning. Being able to calculate the amount of daylight in a room is important for public health and therefore has a great significance for energy use, building regulation and urban planning.
A good view, especially towards calm environments such as vegetation, increases the connection with nature and reduces stress. It has also proven to be positive for learning for children and young people in school. Students in schools with views towards vegetation instead of a sterile environment have shown good study results. For children in schools that prioritize spending time outdoors, it has been possible to see increased physical activity, longer night’s sleep and a healthier BMI than in other children.
There are also links between good views and recovery in healthcare. The care times for hospitalized patients with depressive states decrease if the patients have good access to daylight. These therapeutic effects of daylight and good views have been observed especially in newly operated patients. Studies conducted for rehabilitation clinics also show that views of nature are healing for the patients.
Why shall you use dynamic glass in windows?
The amount of natural daylight flowing in through the window at workplaces needs to be balanced out to maintain a good indoor comfort. Too much daylight can cause high temperatures, dazzle and create reflections on computer screens that can make it difficult to see. Many solve this problem by using awnings or blinds, but they block the view and therefore remove another important factor for our well-being.
A great solution is to use windows with smart, electrochromic glass. These dynamic glasses provide controllable heat and light transmission without blocking the view. Studies show that employees that have been working in an environment with optimized daylight and view created by electrochromic glass both felt better and performed better than employees who worked in an environment with regular windows. The cognitive functions improved, which in turn increased productivity. Even regular health problems for office workers, such as headache, eyestrain and drowsiness, decreased drastically. This proves how important controllable heat and light transmission is for the health and the performance of the employees, as well as the benefits of using smart, dynamic glass.
How do ChromoGenics´ products contribute to great light transmission?
Regardless of season, our product provides necessary daylight, comfortable temperatures, unlimited views, comfort for all workspaces and UV-protection for our well-being. ChromoGenics consists of three product lines which provide increased indoor comfort, improved energy efficiency and architectural freedom. ConverLight® Dynamic glass provides sustainable solar control for increased indoor comfort and energy efficiency in buildings. The electrochromic technology in our smart dynamic glass stops the solar heat before it even enters the building. Our dynamic glass solution adjusts the solar transmittance depending on conditions such as time of day, outdoor temperature and window position. The effect is that the window blocks the solar heat when it is warm and lets the solar heat in when it is cold, in order to regulate the indoor comfort.
Our dynamic glass provides solar heat reduction up to 90%. This guarantees a pleasant indoor climate without losing the benefits that natural daylight has on the human body.
Read more about our ConverLight® Dynamic glass.
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