Well this is newsletter number 52 – which makes it our first birthday! Thank you so much for your company.
I’ve had so many conversations about how great light and lighting can help us be healthier / happier / get more done, I’ve decided to put some of it together in a book. The main audience for this one is professionals who work on a computer and at least part time from home – but the tips apply to anyone really.
I’ve got so much material, I wanted to narrow it down to focus on the things that matter most to you, my patient readers. So I ran a poll on LinkedIn last Monday and this is what we found.
Mental health / mood / focus beat physical health, comfort and the planet hands down. Perhaps not surprising. We ‘mid-lifers’ (the people who hang out on LinkedIn!) are the most miserable according to Blanchard’s seminal ‘u-shaped’ model of how happy we feel at different times in our life (happy-miserable-happy).
Happiness is a famously elusive thing – and not necessarily amenable to ‘scientific’ analysis. But here goes anyway! According to Dariush Dfarhud’s review of the biological basis of happiness, your genes define 35-50% of your ‘default’ emotional mode. The good news is that leaves at least 50% that we can do something about!Light from the eye (we will talk about skin another time!) affects mood and behavioural state through several powerful pathways. Melatonin is just one we talk about a lot. But serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, adrenaline and good old endorphins are also in the mix. I’ll go into these a bit more over the coming weeks but basically as we all know, they fire up and keep us going when they get a solid contrast between a regular blast of bright light in the morning, not much light in the evening and completely dark at night. None of that works in isolation – food, temperature, exercise and socialising throw that off.
It’s time for me to get down to the sea and beat my genes (I come from a long line of very gloomy people…) I invite you to take a break outside too!
With smiles and good wishes
1/ Blanchflower, D.G. Is happiness U-shaped everywhere? Age and subjective well-being in 145 countries. J Popul Econ 34, 575–624 (2021).
2/ Dfarhud D, Malmir M, Khanahmadi M. Happiness & Health: The Biological Factors- Systematic Review Article. Iran J Public Health. 2014 Nov;43(11):1468-77. PMID: 26060713; PMCID: PMC4449495.
3/ Milosavljevic N. How Does Light Regulate Mood and Behavioral State? Clocks Sleep. 2019 Jul 12;1(3):319-331. doi: 10.3390/clockssleep1030027. PMID: 33089172; PMCID: PMC7445808.)