Most of us believe that getting ill at this time of year is usually down to one thing – the change in weather. However, there’s another surprising factor that could be affecting your immune system much more than you may have guessed.
New research has found that forgetting to open your curtains at home makes you more likely to get sick. According to a study led by Dr Ashkaan Fahimipour at University of Oregon in America, the sunlight shining through our windows is crucial because it kills disease-causing bacteria that live in dust, while darker conditions actually enable them to thrive.
This means that offices without windows are also affected by an increase of bacteria in the environment due to the lack of sunlight.
‘Humans spend most of their time indoors, where exposure to dust particles that carry bacteria, including pathogens that can make us sick, is unavoidable,’ Fahimipour explained. ‘Therefore, it is important to understand how features of buildings we occupy influence dust ecosystems and how this could affect our health.’
The research team conducted the study by setting up 11 identical miniature rooms and allowing different levels of sunlight into each room. After 90 days, they found that the dark rooms had double the number of bacteria able to reproduce than the light rooms. Their findings were then published in the journal Microbiome.
‘We hope that with further understanding we could design access to daylight in buildings such as schools, offices, hospitals and homes in ways that reduce the risk of dust-borne infections,’ says Fahimipour.
So, hands up if opening your curtains as soon as you wake up is set to become a part of your daily routine from now on? That’ll be all of us, then.