Could increasing natural light improve learning ability?

Natural light

Whatever your career ambitions or abilities, embracing top tips that make study more effective is always a great way to go. Procrastination can get the better of even the most hard working student, with a recent study revealing that British people of all ages spend on average up to 24 days every year procrastinating. It’s a problem made worse by social media, but sunlight might provide the cure we’ve been searching for.

Exposure to natural light helps people harness several benefits, but understanding its effect on our learning ability could make studying more productive and successful.

Daylighting in educational environments

It’s no secret that exposure to natural light is beneficial for students. The provision of natural light has played a vital role in the design of educational environments for a number of years, with daylight proven to boost the well-being of both students and teachers alike. According to the U.S. Department of Education daylight can be used to significantly improve performance:

“A 2003 study found that classrooms with the most daylighting had a 20 percent better learning rate in math, and a 26 percent improved rate in reading, compared to classrooms with little or no daylighting. Improving daylighting doesn’t have to involve a renovation.  It can be as simple as moving stacked supplies away from windows to let the natural light shine in!”

A healthy learning environment

The presence of natural light doesn’t just boost students’ learning abilities. The generation of vitamin D as a result of exposure to natural light ensures a healthy learning environment can be created. Getting vitamin D directly from the sun reduces the risk of developing various illnesses, diseases and conditions, including multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and the flu.

In addition to this, vitamin D improves mental well-being, playing an integral part in mood regulation and reducing the risk of developing depression. Those who already have depression will also see an improvement in symptoms the more vitamin D they receive. Receiving that vital daily dose of vitamin D is particularly important during the autumn and winter seasons when the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) tend to hit sufferers the hardest.

Other benefits of natural light

The advantages of being exposed to natural light in the classroom don’t end there. Natural light exposure helps promote a better night’s sleep, and sleep matters, especially for students. Regular exposure results in the creation of serotonin, a chemical found mainly in the brain, bowels and blood platelets that has a wide range of functions within the body. The presence of serotonin has been proven to promote well-being and happiness, the primary reason why it’s known as the ‘happy chemical’. An increase in this happy chemical tends to make people more active and alert, two qualities that will improve the success of study.

Blood pressure levels are also reduced thanks to exposure to natural light. The ultraviolet or UV rays emitted by the sun cause the release of a compound called nitric oxide. This is a naturally occurring gas that, in small doses, can cause a health-enhancing drop in blood pressure.

It’s great for the planet too

The presence of natural light in classrooms and home-based study spaces has a positive impact on the environment too. Thanks to the abundance of natural light, less can be spent on the electricity needed to illuminate spaces. The use of natural light is certain to lead to significant energy savings.

Where to look next:

  • To find out more about our A Level and GCSE courses, click here
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  • If you’re interested in seeing which universities our students go to, click here.

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