As we’re spending more and more time indoors, David Knight at Roof Windows 4 You tells us how we can let natural light into our homes and how much of an impact it can have on a child’s health, wellbeing, and development.
The rise of technology, streaming services, and other new distractions means that children are spending over two hours per day online (Ofcom). On top of that, they spend almost two hours watching television and, for many families, gathering to watch TV is how we get quality time together. As a result, children are spending less time outdoors and can even develop health conditions due to the lack of natural light.
Statistics revealed that 12.8% of 5 to 19-year-olds had at least one mental health disorder when assessed in 2017 and this figure is expected to rise in the coming years (NHS). It’s thought that there’s a link between natural light and wellbeing, indicating that improving access to light indoors can help to improve physical health and mental development, too.
But how does it work? Below are some of the ways that sunlight can benefit a child’s development, as well as improve their mental and physical wellbeing.
Increasing Learning Development
The amount of daylight in a learning environment, whether that’s at the kitchen table or in a classroom at school, can have a big impact on academic performance. Test scores, attendance, and student behaviour can be significantly improved by learning in classrooms that are bright and well lit, according to the University of Salford, and creating the same sort of environment at home encourages children to continue their educational development.
There are lots of ways you can increase the amount of natural light in your home to achieve this. Move furniture around to prevent it from blocking the windows, increase the number of reflective surfaces and mirrors, and take down any dark or heavy curtains that could be stopping the light outside from getting into your home to make the most of the productivity-boosting rays.
If your house has been built in a shady spot, consider converting the loft into a learning room: being higher up in the house and the addition of pitched roof windows means that lofts have the potential to receive sunlight that the rest of the house can’t.
Improved Health And Psychological Benefits
Natural light can also have direct benefits to our physical health and wellbeing. Access to light encourages our bodies to produce vitamin D, which prevents bone loss, reduces the risk of heart disease and obesity, and staves off plenty of other illnesses. Height, weight gain, and even dental cavities can all be affected by the amount of sunlight a child receives, and that’s not to mention the benefits it can have on their vision and sight.
Try to focus on amplifying natural light rather than increasing the number of artificial light sources in your home, as these can give children headaches and even cause sickness, anxiety, and stress. A well-lit room may look more aesthetically pleasing than one that’s a bit gloomy but choosing natural sunlight over fluorescent bulbs biologically boosts our mood, as well — especially if we suffer from seasonal depression.
Sunlight can influence a child’s social and cognitive skills, according to the University of Nebraska, so by letting in more natural light through your windows you can ensure healthy mental childhood development.
It can be difficult to concentrate if we don’t get enough rest, and this is even more true for children who struggle to get a good night’s sleep. Children, even up to the age of 14, should be aiming for over ten hours sleep per night according to the National Sleep Foundation, with some toddlers requiring up to 16 hours. By getting enough sleep, a child’s overall behaviour can improve significantly. Plus, their mood, alertness, concentration, and energy levels can suffer if they don’t get enough, particularly if they spend a lot of time indoors.
Fortunately, we can help children to develop healthy sleep cycles that are in line with their circadian rhythm by ensuring they get enough daylight when the sun is up and keeping their rooms dark at night. Consider blackout blinds to reduce light in the evening, helping them drift off. Look for blinds that can be opened completely during the daytime to ensure clearly defined days and nights. This will make it much easier for them to sleep when it gets dark and rise with the sun.
These are just some of the ways that natural light can benefit a child’s development and keep them physically and mentally healthy, which is even more important now that we spend more of our time indoors.