Updated: Aug 16
A blog by Jan Denneman for Swiss Sense.
The holidays are almost at an end! It is a perfect way to relax and get away from the daily grind. After your vacation you feel completely recharged. How does that actually work, that recharging? Why do you suddenly have more energy after the vacations? And can you hold on to that vacation feeling?
The power of daylight
Fewer obligations and new experiences certainly contribute to your vacation feeling. But the real cause for the vacation feeling is daylight. We are made for daylight. Light, and especially daylight, has the greatest impact on the biological clock in our brains, setting it in sync with real time every day. This keeps the processes in our bodies synchronized with the 24-hour rhythm of day and night. So does our sleep-wake cycle. Therefore, according to Jan Denneman of the Good Light Group, much more attention should be paid to the effect of light on our health.
Those who see enough daylight sleep better
Daylight affects our biological clock and is therefore very important for our sleep and health. With enough daylight, you are more alert, productive and in a better mood. So the next time a colleague is grumbling, it's best to send him or her outside!
How too little daylight disturbs your sleep
If we are indoors most of the day, our biological clock lags about twenty minutes a day. After just a few days, that's one to two hours! You can compare it to jet lag, which is why we call it social jet lag. Like regular jet lag, it also causes problems with sleep.
As an example, let's assume you've had a week of too little daylight. If you want to go to sleep at eleven o'clock, your body is only in the eight or nine o'clock position. You are still far too alert to sleep well because you still have too much cortisol hormone, which is our stress or vigilance hormone, in your body. Your body has not yet produced enough melatonin, which is just so important for good deep sleep. Perhaps you sleep in, tired from the whole week, but you do not achieve the deep sleep your body needs to recover. You then wake up unrested, less productive and in a worse mood.
On vacation, your biological clock gets reset
During our vacation and the amount of daylight our eyes see, our biological clock is synchronized with the time of day after just a few days. As a result, when you go to bed, your body is then ready for a good night's sleep. You sleep better, your mood improves, and there's that vacation feeling again!
After the vacations we spend a lot of time indoors again, where we see too little daylight. Our bodies can't cope well with this and this often causes the vacation feeling to disappear quickly. The light inside is too weak during the day and too strong at night for our biological clock. The clock cells cannot make out what time it really is and start to lag: social jet lag.
Three steps to good light
Fortunately, you can do something yourself to keep the vacation feeling. Here are my 3 tips:
1. Make sure you are outside as much as possible during the day, take a walk in the morning, have lunch outside or take a lunch walk.
2. Make sure you sit near a window inside as much as possible, preferably within one meter distance.
3. Install good light. Good light is the right light at the right time. Provide plenty of light during the day and build it down to less and softer light at night. Normal indoor lighting is not strong enough for our biological clock. Fortunately, today there is special lighting that is strong enough.
That way you can keep that vacation feeling all year long! Do these tips not work for you? Then there's nothing left to do but go on a well-deserved vacation!