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Full Spectrum Light

During the 1940s, while perfecting the process of time-lapse photography, John Ott, PhD, discovered that plant growth was significantly altered in greenhouse conditions. Sunlight passing through glass was being filtered, eliminating the near-ultraviolet (near-UV) portion of the light spectrum. The plants suffered from this deprivation. He found a similar problem in the animal kingdom. A friend's colony of minks was not breeding properly. Raised in a basement where they received only artificial light, the animals' normal breeding patterns were seriously affected by a lack of near-UV light.

For millions of years, life on planet Earth has evolved while bathed in a sea of radiation from our sun. Like plants in greenhouses, or minks in basements, humans, too, are bound to experience some detrimental effects from living most of their lives within walls. When we fail to get a healthy, safe dose of natural light on our bodies every day, we cut ourselves off from a very important source of input energy.

Ott reported that the brightness, buzzing, and flickering of fluorescent lights contribute to irritability, inattention, and impulsive behavior. Spurred by Ott's pioneering work, the National Cancer Institute found that ordinary fluorescent lights were causing mutations in the chromosomes of hamsters and could possibly stimulate cancer growth. Fluorescent lights also have been linked with hyperactive behavior of some children who are exposed to these lights for long periods of time over many years.

In 1984, Norman Rosenthal, MD, of the National Institute of Mental Health discovered and named seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also called winter depression," and pioneered its treatment with bright light in the early morning, which fools the body into thinking the day is longer. The existence of this phenomenon is further proof of how sensitive we are to the light in our environment.

Unfortunately, this area of wellness has also been largely ignored, but we suggest that you may increase your wellness by installing full-spectrum incandescent lights at your workplace and getting outside for some part of every day. At the same time, you should protect your skin and eyes from too much shortwave ultraviolet radiation by staying out of midday sunlight during the summer months and by wearing protective clothing.

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