I personally have spent a lot of my time the last year in my dark, bedroom. I spent this week wondering about the effects of constantly being in a dark room. It’s usually my preference to have my room dark or dim, because I feel like watching tv shows or movies gives a “cinematic effect“. Earlier this week, instead of having my room dark, I decided to keep the lights on. The results were surprising.
In 2018 an article was published by Michigan State University titled “Does Dim Light Make Us Dumber?“. In the article it’s said that during a study of Nile grass rats over 4 weeks, rats that were exposed to dim lights lost 30% of capacity in their hippocampus. The hippocampus stores long term memories and makes memories hard to forget.
If we are anything like Nile grass rats, then being in the dark consistently for long periods of time must do damage to our brains. I said earlier that the results were surprising when I kept the lights on throughout the day in my room. I actually felt different. I felt better in my room and also enjoyed it more. More than that, I felt like ideas were flowing into me, I was getting more creative, and also I didn’t feel the usual shame I feel for watching more than one episode of a TV show. Why is that?
Darkness & depression have always been correlated. That’s no coincidence. In a 2008 article published by PNAS (Natl. Academy of Sciences), it stated that rats kept for 6 weeks in constant darkness have “anatomical and behavioral features similar to depressed patients, including dysregulation of circadian sleep–waking rhythms and impairment of the noradrenergic (NA)-locus coeruleus (LC) system.”
It makes sense now why I felt better in the light rather than the darkness of my room. We can conclude that dark rooms can affect our mood by making us feel depressed if we are in the darkness for too long. Make sure you get some light today.