The Dark Side of Not Getting Enough Sunlight

The Dark Side of Not Getting Enough Sunlight

We're all aware that too much sun can be bad for our health. And even if we don't, the sun lotion companies certainly do! However, did you know that the lack of sunlight can have adverse effects on your health too? It's true! Not only can it lead to vitamin D deficiency and Seasonal Affective Disorder, but it also has been linked with an increased risk for some cancers (just like too much direct sunlight!). 

This post discusses what happens if you don't get enough sunlight and highlight how Bright Health's Bright Light Therapy Device may be able to help.

When We Don't Get Enough Sunshine, it Isn't Pretty

Here are a few ways that a lack of sunlight can adversely affect your health.

  • Vitamin D deficiency: This is one of the most well-known consequences of not getting enough sun, and it's been linked to a greater likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke or developing deadly cancers. Additionally, vitamin D deficiencies can also cause weak bones, so it's important to get your daily dose!
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): If you live in a colder climate, you may be more likely to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a type of depression that occurs during the winter months due to a lack of sunlight. 
  • Circadian rhythm disruptions: When your circadian rhythm is out of whack, you are more likely to have issues with sleeping and eating. Insomnia and weight gain can also result when this happens. 
  • Increased risk of certain cancers: According to Cancer Research UK, there's some evidence that being in the sun too much increases the risk of getting melanoma skin cancer. However, they also note that not getting enough sun may increase the risk of other types of cancer, such as breast cancer.
  • Weakened immunity: A healthy immune system helps us fight off infection. Not getting adequate amounts of sleep and having insufficient amounts of vitamin D make us more likely to develop infections. 
  • Low Energy: We all know that lack of sleep can make us feel tired and low on energy. In addition to this, the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine are synthesized from sunlight exposure! So, when you're not getting enough sun it's going to be a lot harder for your body to produce these essential chemicals which contribute to feelings of happiness and relaxation.

While it's important to be aware of these risks, it's also good to know that there are things you can do to help protect yourself. One great way is to use a light therapy device like Bright Health's Bright Light Therapy Device. Light therapy devices are a great way to get the benefits of sunlight exposure without subjecting your skin to harmful UV rays or, you know, going outside!

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder 

It's important to touch on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) a little more here, as many people aren't aware of it. If you're feeling depressed or lack energy in the colder months, then there's a chance that it could be Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

It affects people more in the north where it's cold and dark for most of the year. People who have SAD tend to experience symptoms between September and April every year, which is when days are shorter. Symptoms include low energy levels, weight gain, changes in appetite (usually craving more carbohydrates), lack of interest in doing things that you usually enjoy and having a depressed mood. 

It's one of the more preventable mood disorders, as it can be treated by getting more natural sunlight or full-spectrum light from a light therapy lamp if you can't get out as much as you'd like. For this reason, these lamps are sometimes known as SAD lamps.

Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder 

If you think that you might have SAD, there are a few ways to treat it:

  • Get more sunlight: This is the most obvious solution and can be done by spending time outside. As mentioned, you can alternatively use a light therapy device like Bright Health's Bright Light Therapy Lamp for 30 minutes in the morning. 
  • Exercise: Anything from a workout to a 30-minute walk is great for boosting mood, which can be low if you have SAD or other forms of depression.
  • Eat right: The right diet can be good for your winter mental health. Try foods like leafy greens and fatty fish for size. The Cleveland Clinic has the full list of SAD-busting foods here:
  • See a therapist: If the symptoms are severe, then seeing a therapist may be the best solution. They can help you deal with the root causes of your depression and find ways to alleviate it.
  • Medication: Some people use antidepressants in the winter months if their symptoms are severe enough, but they can come with a lot of side effects so it's not ideal for everyone.

Light Therapy Device Benefits 

Light therapy lamps mimic sunlight, so they can help support your mood and energy levels throughout winter. They also have other benefits like giving you more vitamin D (as long as you spend a few minutes under it daily) and helping with sleep since melatonin is influenced by exposure to light in the daytime. 

Other benefits that bright light therapy lamps bring include relief from jet lag and shift work disorder. Simply put, we don't just need sunlight to feel better, we need sunlight to survive. If we don't have it, we need to make sure that we do something to replace it. 

Light therapy lamps are a great way of doing this, but make sure you look for one with an output of at least 100 lux in order to get the most benefit from it. Also, make sure that you are getting a device that doesn't give you heavy exposure to UV rays. If you don't, you will be undoing all that wonderful work that a device like this is supposed to give you. 

How to Use Your Bright Light Therapy Lamp

Bright Health's 14" Bright Light Therapy Device is non-invasive, natural and very easy to use. It's also the #1 Expert-recommended treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder. For those with mild to moderate SAD or circadian rhythm issues, use the lamp daily to help provide relief. 

For the best effectiveness, use the device in the morning hours or right after your morning walk. Place the 14” Light Therapy Lamp above your line of sight to maximize the light reaching your eyes. The lamp's unique 360° span helps maximize the coverage area. 

It's best to face the lamp with your eyes open during each session. However, you don't need to gaze directly at the light. For the first few days of use, you may need to gauge the effects and lengthen or shorten the duration time based on your response.

The Bright Health Lamp doesn't just emit therapeutic light from 360 degrees either. It also doubles as a chic home décor Item you can leave out for easy access and use in the morning. 

Give Bright Health's Light Therapy Lamp a Try

If you think that bright light therapy may be able to help your Seasonal Affective Disorder and other adverse conditions, then give Bright Health's 14" Light Therapy Lamp a try!