Sarah Beeny: Improve your mood with daylight
As much as we’d all love to spend more time outside, it’s not always practical.
We don’t need science to tell us that daylight has a big effect on our mood – we can feel it after a short walk in the sunshine. But the proof is there all the same, lower levels of daylight lead to lower levels of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that regulates appetite, sleep, memory, and mood – in our bodies. Essentially this means that more natural light puts people in a better mood, and too little light can lead to symptoms of depression.
As much as we’d all love to spend more time outside, it’s not always practical. In fact, nowadays we spend an average of 90% of our time indoors. So if we can’t get out to the light, how can we bring the light inside to us? Here are my top tips for bringing light into your home – and ultimately improving your mood throughout the day:
Getting a dose of daylight as soon as you wake up can put you in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day. If you’re planning a loft conversion, make sure you add roof windows into your plans. The light you’ll let in will not only benefit the room, but the rest of the house, as it spills down stairs or through hallways.
If you have a loft conversion already, consider moving your bedroom into this space, the bright light let in by roof windows is the perfect wake-up call – just make sure you have black-out blinds to ensure a good night’s sleep!
The working day
If your home is also your office, it’s hugely important to make sure your workspace is conducive to creativity, as well as a clear and focussed mind. Keep clutter and fussy accessories to a minimum, they make a space feel smaller and more closed-in. If you have limited access to natural light, the solution could be a sun tunnel, which funnels light in from the roof to even the most inaccessible areas of your home. If your space is small, try the old Japanese trick of placing an eye-catching object just outside the window, such as an ornamental tree, coloured sculpture or a planter. Your eye will naturally be led to the object, increasing the sense of space through proportion and line.
If you’re working from home, aim to have lunch in a bright, south-facing room, and position your chair to face the window. Ideally, your kitchen will be one of the brightest rooms in your house. If your kitchen isn’t as bright as you would like, consider adding even a small roof window, which will instantly brighten up the room and make it feel more welcoming. Shiny surfaces reflect light so using paint with sheen and high gloss floor tiles is another relatively quick and easy way to maximise light.
A gloomy hallway isn’t the ‘welcome home’ we want after a hard day’s work. If your hallway has no access to natural light, consider knocking through a wall to create a sight line to a window in another – ideally south or west facing room, for maximum afternoon and evening light. Standing by the front door with a view to the garden at the back not only means light can flood through your home, but also gives your home a feeling of spaciousness.
There’s no doubt that the better our mood, the better we get on with our family, so ensure the rooms you spend time in together are as light and airy as possible. Avoid using too many dark, matte materials such as dark rugs and carpets or heavy, dark upholstery, they soak up light like a sponge. Pale wooden floors are much better for bouncing light around, as are well-positioned mirrors, which can be used like windows, to reflect views and bring light into the room. A white ceiling is also great for increasing the intensity of available light, as well as the sense of space.