Daylight reduces the risk of depression and psychosis

Dimming the lights in the evening and getting plenty of daylight during the day is good for your mental health. Australian researchers show this.

Here’s to you

Long-term exposure to artificial light in the evening and at night is associated with an increased risk of developing a number of psychological disorders. Anyone who continues to live under the light of lamps and screens when it’s dark outside is at greater risk of developing depression, stress complaints, and PTSD.

Conversely, plenty of exposure to natural daylight, for example, reduces the risk of depression by up to 20 percent.

Dangerous size

This is what researchers from Australia’s Monash University found. This isn’t the first time the importance of day-night rhythm for mental health has been demonstrated, but this study is of serious scope: 87,000 people participated. They wore a wristband for a week that recorded the level of light exposure.

The researchers can rule out that the results were influenced by working evening shifts, poor sleep, the difference between urban and rural areas and the heart health of the people studied.

Biological clock imbalance

Researchers have been concerned for some time about disruptions to people’s ingenious biological clocks. Increasingly, it appears that problems arise due to the disruption of this redundant system. In the Netherlands, for example, this happens BioClock Consortium Research into the consequences for people and nature.

The Australian study is the largest of its kind to date, and measures light exposure using objective data. Those are the strengths. But the tricky thing is that the study cannot rule out that day-night rhythm disturbance is actually a consequence of mental illness, not a cause. Therefore, additional research remains necessary.

However, it is clear that day-night rhythm plays an important role in mental health. Researchers stress that this is a cheap and simple way for everyone to impact mental health: get enough bright light during the day, and cherish the dark evenings and nights.

This study was published in the journal Natural mental health

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Megan Vasquez

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