Up here in Northern Michigan around the 44th parallel we really start to miss our light this time of year. The days are finally getting longer but they are cloudy. Currently, Jan 7, 2023, it’s been days since I’ve seen that yellow warm orb of light in the sky. We have these drab days that are just different hues of grey and brown. The sun rises around 8 am and sets around 5. I try not to focus on the lack of light and enjoy what we do get. I know there are places further north who get much less sun and day light. When the sun does decide to shine, you will find the windows thrown open, faces turned to the sun, extra time purposely spent outside trying to bathe in it despite the cold. I honestly don’t mind the cold or the feet of snow we often get. What does get to me is the lack of sunshine.
One of the things many folks do up here is replace the sun with the fire in the winter. We love our fires up here, even fake fires give some kind of ambiance that people are drawn to. So much so that YouTube, TVs, etc.. have ones you can play on a loop with the sound of fire and all. But many homes here have gas or electric fire places, some have actual wood burning fireplaces or stoves. We are drawn to in innately, our bodies seek out that kind of light. That light is infrared, mostly in the form of near infrared light (NIR). There have been studies done on the health benefit NIR light. To the point where it has become a whole industry to sell saunas, light walls, light beds and so on. Interestingly it appears that the research into IR (infra red light) looks to have been started by a musician. Some of the research shows that NIR therapy can reach the body and “may restore biological function of mitochondria”. It has been shown to help with pain and inflammation, promotes healing, improves appearance of aging skin, brain function, and so much more. You can search and read many articles about it yourself. The point is, our body craves this because we probably need it.
For me this means exposure to fire, sun, and having a NIR light in my home. I will link to the one we chose, its thrifty and effective. This is part of my zone 00 care, caring for me! Which in turn cares for the rest of my zones.
There are other kinds of light, many in fact. I will only cover one more here in the short little blog…the research can be endless and exhaustive.
Okay, yes, it’s not light, it’s the absence of. But it is vital. Just like our bodies need that Near Infrared Light, they also need darkness. And what they really need is utter darkness. That kind where you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. We need this darkness to sleep. The street lights, night lights, clocks, phones, and so on…those all have lights and disrupt the most important thing we can do to help ourselves function, sleep. There is actually something called Dark Therapy. More and more research is being done on the effects of darkness (and different types of light). One key reason we need darkness is because we need melatonin. Our body makes it so we can sleep well and our bodies need darkness to produce it. In fact, they have found that it needs to be pretty dark.
It can be hard to get your room dark if you have family, travel, sleep in odd places (I recently watched a video of a naval sailor trying to sleep in his cubby in a storm with lights on). One option to mimic this is a sleep mask. I use one, even though we have a fairly dark room. The smallest amount of light bothers me so I wear one every night. It has been a real game changer for me. It is amazing how much light comes in through your eye lids. One of the reasons I love camping, especially rustic camping is I get to combine these two things. The fire followed by the dark nights. Camping outside is also a therapy many use to reset their sleep cycle. Literally they go to the woods to rebalance their sleep. If you do this it is best to not use any artificial lighting or technology that produces it. It allows the body to adjust back to the sun, moon and stars…we probably know so little about how this works still, but I can tell you the days we spend like this are the most restful and rejuvenating times we have.
So folks, go rewild yourself and if you can’t try to mimic nature as much as you can at home with the right kinds of light and the darkest dark you can make. Come back and tell me if you feel a change.
Speaking of the moon and darkness, I want to send you on a rabbit trail. I am going to delve into woo-woo, at the risk of you all thinking I have lost my mind. Oh, yes…even more than you may have thought before.
So here goes nothing…
Your bodies hormones could be and probably are changing with the moon and its light and tides and..??
…bare feet walking, tallow tooth brushing and now moon light cycling…
I will leave you to your own research but I will tell you I did use moon cycling, my sleep improved dramatically and so did my hormones. You can decide if you want to dive into that topic yourself.
Anyway, for me the answer to many of my health issues has been sleep, darkness, fire…all available in abundance when I focus on Rewilding myself.
Below are links to some of the products I mentioned above. These are Amazon affiliate links, meaning I do make a little money from them.
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