How can I increase the natural light in my house? It’s a regular query, and understandably so given the enormous benefits of natural light to health and wellbeing.
At Scalesceugh Villas on the edge of the Lake District we’ve gone for the obvious option. We’ve made our windows bigger!
Sounds an easy solution, doesn’t it? Of course it’s not, and that’s why most homes are not built with huge expanses of glass.
Doing so requires some architectural genius and there is a lot more science to it than you might think.
But we’ve invested in this for a reason. Of course, taking advantage of natural light will reduce energy consumption in terms of providing artificial light - and this will reduce your electricity bill.
But there are many more benefits to natural light than financial ones.
Natural light makes you happier
Doctors and scientists are united in prescribing natural light to boost serotonin - that’s our happy hormone - to combat depression.
In the winter, many people are affected by a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), brought on by not receiving enough sunlight.
Natural light boosts vitamin D levels
Vitamin D, if you didn’t know, is important because it helps absorb calcium, and this in turn leads to healthier bones.
Many adults have a Vitamin D deficiency, and this is also associated with many other diseases and disorders, from depression to autism to cancer.
Natural light helps you sleep
Research supports the relationship between the amount of sunlight you are exposed to and a good night’s sleep.
Natural light requirements increase with age
Light controls the body’s circadian system, which affects mood and perception. As well as reducing depression and improving sleep, it can help people in later years to decrease the length of stays in hospitals, ease pain and reduce agitation if you have dementia.
Dr Anita Ray-Chowdhury Herdeiro, co-founder of Scalesceugh Hall & Villas, says: “Having worked internationally in both the Mediterranean - where there is 30% more light than in Cumbria - and Scandinavian countries, we understand the importance that light and space have in people's lives.
“Conditions such as SAD have been recognised as a fundamental problem in places like Scandinavia and Cumbria, but rather than just looking at medication and light therapy, let us embrace the way people live.”
Many studies have shown that buildings can impact a person’s health, especially with people in developed countries spending as much as 90 per cent of their time indoors.
Architects, therefore, have been playing a more important role in designing buildings which let in natural light. But they can often be restricted by tight budgets and planning laws.
Dr Anita Ray-Chowdhury Herdeiro adds: “Architecture has a key factor to play in embracing the way people live .
“Look at the The All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People here.
“Architects came together with clinicians to understand societies and ageing better. Countries like Sweden are light years ahead in seeing how societies and health benefit from the way homes are designed.
“We have created that sustainable, light and spacious lifestyle here.
“We are retirement by name but definitely not by nature.”