How Sunlight Affects Us Biologically

Sunlight is a big factor in or daily life. We live most of our lives in the presence of sunlight, planning activities around it, and then in the evening, recreating sunlight to extend the hours we can be productive. If you think about it, we typically feel sleepy in dark rooms. Our eyes can not receive any of the light bouncing of objects so your eyes begin to close. Your body runs of a biological clock that you wake up on average around the same time everyday. Even if you disrupt your normal schedule on one occasion, you still wake up at the time you were use to getting up at (or in the case of you waking up earlier than your normal schedule, its harder for you to wake up and get functioning). This biological clock is called the Zeitgeber, which is german for “time giver” or “synchronizer.” The Zeitgeber is mostly controlled by the presence of light. It is natural for humans to sleep during the night and work during the day. Human beings are not nocturnal. So in order to be productive at night and to postpone our stages of sleep, we introduce lights to mimic the sun. For those who work late night or all night shifts, they must train their biological clock to stay awake during the night and sleep during the day, along with the help of somecaffeinated drink of some sort.

An experience I had with my biological clock was in New York. New York is known as the city that never sleeps, which may be true. Through all hours of the night, there is some sort of noise that is heard, whether it is the honking of a car, the siren of a emergency vehicle, or the bright lights of the street, billboards, or surrounding buildings. When I visited Times Square during the day, it was a chaotic scene, but yet just as any other part of the world. The sun was out, creating shadows in some parts but equality throughout the area with the amount of light and being able to see. That night, I had went to Times Square to eat at a restaurant. Walking there was like a normal city, street lights and car headlights illuminating the road. When I reached Times Square, the amount of light given off in this one area was shocking. Once inside the restaurant, looking out of a window I lost the since of what time it was. It looked as if it was 1 PM instead of 1 AM. The intensity of the light was very strong. I felt more energized and lost any feeling of sleepiness I had felt prior to walking to there. My zeitgeber slowly began to accept the presence of light.

Times Square during the day

In Perception and Lighting, Lam begins to talk about how sunlight is a basic biological need that we usher into our homes during the day, even if it is a small percentage of it. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of our productivity, we welcome it.  New York has not only welcomed it during the day and into the evening and well into the night. This is the case in many homes and buildings across the country, trying to extend our productivity by introducing artificial light and altering the effects of our biological clock.

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