Exposure to light has a “powerful influence” on mental health

Exposure to light has a “powerful influence” on mental health

Scrolling on your phone, or watching television, until late at night could be harmful to mental health, reveals a study carried out by Australian researchers. More broadly, increased exposure to light at night would increase the risk of mental disorders, ranging from anxiety to bipolarity, while significant exposure to daytime light would be beneficial in terms of mental health.

Mental health: a growing concern globally

For several years, science has tackled the problem of mental health head-on, attempting to highlight new means and accessible strategies to alleviate the growing number of individuals affected by these disorders. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports nearly a billion people suffering from a mental disorder in 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic, which would have seen cases increase by more than 25%. of depression and anxiety, during the first year. An observation that the global health authority does not take lightly, pushing decision-makers to act in favor of the mental health of populations.

Simple habits can improve mental health

Considering the latest scientific work on the subject, it appears that certain uses, simple and accessible, could greatly influence the mental health of men, women, and children. A new study looked at the role of exposure to light, day and night. A team led by researchers from the Monash School of Psychological Sciences and the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, in Australia, examined data from 86,772 participants from the UK Biobank, and more specifically their exposure to light, their sleep , their physical activity, and their mental health.

Beware of the light exposure at night

Published in the journal Nature Mental Health, this work tells us that the risk of depression increases by 30% in people heavily exposed to light at night. Conversely, this risk would decrease by 20% in those exposed to large quantities of light during the day. All of this testifies to the “powerful influence” of exposure to light, day or night, on the mental health of subjects. The researchers specify in a press release, without providing precise figures, that the risk would be similar for other behaviors such as self-harm, psychosis, bipolar disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, or even post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Reset our body to more natural rhythms

Once people understand that their patterns of light exposure have a powerful influence on their mental health, they can take a few simple steps to optimize their well-being. This is to get bright light during the day and darkness at night” says Professor Sean Cain from the Monash School of Psychological Sciences.

And to conclude: “Today’s humans are challenging biological systems, spending approximately 90% of the day indoors under electric lighting that is too dim during the day and too bright at night relative to natural light cycles. and darkness. It disrupts our body and makes us sick“.