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Good to know: why light is so important

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It's no secret that sunlight makes you happy: After every long, dark winter, we look forward to summer. In the light of the year we feel better and have more energy. But light not only influences our well-being, it is also essential for our health. We explain in five facts why light is so important.

Fact 1: Light controls our sleep-wake cycle

It is not for nothing that we set our clock according to daylight: our body needs it to stay in time. As a timer in the so-called circadian system, light controls our internal clock. The pineal gland, which releases the sleep hormone melatonin in the dark, is primarily responsible for the day-night rhythm. Bright light, on the other hand, prevents melatonin production and ensures that we stay awake during the day. This knowledge has great practical benefits for shift workers: They should wear sunglasses on the way home so that the release of melatonin is not stopped. Restful sleep is also possible during the day. A lack of light is also responsible for the fact that we often feel weak and listless in winter. In the darker months of the year, the body releases melatonin longer, so we are tired during the day.

Fact 2: Light provides us with vitamin D.

Light is also particularly important for vitamin D supplies. The body can only produce the important mineral if there is an adequate supply of sunlight. People need vitamin D to absorb calcium - a nutrient that is essential for the formation and stability of bones. In the worst case, a lack of vitamin D leads to bone loss (osteoporosis) or, in young children, to bone softening (rickets). To fill the depots, experts recommend at least 20 to 30 minutes of sunlight per day. Artificial lighting by lamps cannot replace natural daylight: in offices the light is only 400 lux, while even a rainy winter's day offers a dose of up to 2,500 lux. With a short walk during the lunch break, working people can do a lot for their health. The portion of daylight also helps against tiredness.

Fact 3: Light prevents cardiovascular diseases

New scientific surveys have discovered further positive effects of light on human health: British scientists found in a study at the University of Edinburgh that the sun's rays stimulate the formation of nitrogen dioxide, thus promoting the widening of blood vessels and reducing high blood pressure. The lower blood pressure reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke. In winter, most people's blood pressure is higher and thus their risk of cardiovascular problems - another argument in favor of leaving the house in the darker months of the year despite the cold and wet to fill up with daylight.

Fact 4: Light lifts our spirits

I have winter depression! A phrase that each of us knows. And it's more than an excuse for a bad mood. Because it has been proven that light also influences our mood. While darkness promotes melatonin production, daylight leads to the release of serotonin. High amounts of the hormone increase our physical well-being. Less of the happiness hormone is released in winter, which - in connection with the increased melatonin level - can lead to depression and listlessness. People in northern countries such as Finland or Norway with long winters and a few hours of sun per day are particularly familiar with the low phase, also known as the “polar collars”. Daylight therapy can help: Today, professional devices generate light with a strength of up to 10,000 lux.

Fact 5: Sunlight as an energy source

Last but not least, sunlight not only strengthens our health, but is also suitable as a natural source of energy with enormous performance potential. Solar energy is created by nuclear fusion and reaches the earth as electromagnetic radiation. It can be used in two different ways: photovoltaic systems generate electricity, while solar thermal systems heat water. The modern solar thermal systems from Vaillant make it possible, for example, to use solar energy for the efficient production of hot water and domestic heating. The use of solar energy not only saves money, it is also ecological, since the sun's energy is used completely emission-free. You can find all information about photovoltaics and solar thermal energy in our solar energy guide: https://www.vaillant.de/heizung/heizung-verhaben/technologie-verhaben/solarenergie/

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