Did you know that on the shortest day of the year (winter solstice), Edmonton and Calgary get less than eight hours of daylight? While Albertans manage to keep a stiff—likely frozen—upper lip when facing the snow and frosty temperatures, the lack of daylight during the coldest winter months can be especially draining. There are many benefits of natural light in your home, not least of which is warding off the negative mental and physical effects of short winter days.
The science behind wintertime SADness
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that researchers believe is caused by changes in our exposure to sunlight. Reduced exposure to light may disturb the body’s circadian rhythm and neurotransmitter functions, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are largely responsible for mood and sleep regulation in the body.
SAD Symptoms are similar to depression symptoms and may include irritability, sleep problems, and trouble concentrating. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, treatment may include consulting with a mental health professional about medication, psychotherapy, or helpful exercise programs, but many people benefit significantly from light therapy.
Maximizing your exposure to natural light
During the shortest, coldest days of the year, it is especially important to make a conscious effort to seek out light and sunshine during the day. In addition to investing in a therapy light box, here are some tips on how to get more sunlight in your life:
- Rearrange home or office furniture for an unobstructed view of windows. Repositioning your desk or moving dark, heavy furniture away from nearby windows can help you make the most of your light. Adding reflective surfaces, such as mirrors or metallic accents can also help amplify the amount of natural light indoors.
- Schedule regular sunlight breaks during the workday. It is so tough when you arrive at work in the dark and leave in the dark. So trade in the ghastly glow of fluorescent tube lighting for natural light whenever you can! Eat lunch or take a coffee break by a sunlit window. Do you have access to a conference room with lots of windows? Try and schedule meetings there as often as possible.
- Throw back the curtains and let the sunshine in. Dark, heavy window treatments and curtains block a lot of natural light. Switching to lighter colours and lightweight fabrics will still provide some privacy while letting in much-needed sunlight.
Additional benefits of natural light windows
Are you reluctant to keep curtains open because your windows are drafty and cold? It might be time to look at replacing your home’s old, inefficient windows with properly sealed and glazed windows.
Gienow offers a wide variety of window glazing and tinting options with incredible benefits, ranging from textured or coloured glass that provides privacy without sacrificing light, to an invisible titanium dioxide coating that harnesses the power of the sun’s UV rays to loosen dirt so it rinses away easily with water for a virtually spotless finish. Now that’s a bright idea!
In addition to the health benefits associated with exposure to natural light, strategic window placement can help reduce home energy costs and can boost the overall value of your home. Replacing old windows with brand new, energy efficient window styles, or adding windows as part of a renovation project are excellent opportunities to make your home more efficient, more comfortable, and more appealing.
This year, keep the winter blues at bay by implementing some of our light-boosting tips. Ready to upgrade your natural light situation with new windows? Learn more about the different types of replacement windows that best suit your home’s configuration, location, and style.