By Joshua Andrews
Have you ever noticed your mood shift on sunny days? Most of us know the sun is good for us, but have you ever wondered exactly why? There are many reasons why the sun on our skin is good for us. With many of us spending a large chunk of the day inside due to work, studies or home comforts, some of us don’t get these mood-improving factors as often as we should. If you’re looking for a sign to step through the door, here are five key reasons you may want to spend some time each day basking in the sunlight.
Sunlight releases serotonin
Serotonin plays a key role in how our bodies and brains function. One could say that it is linked to many of the ways sunlight heightens our mood. For those not in the know, serotonin is a hormone that releases in moments of joy or relaxation. In simple terms, it is the reason we feel calm and focused during these times. Fundamentally, it’s the chemical reaction that produces feelings of happiness. And research shows that we can experience this from the sun’s rays alone.
Many of the following points are linked to serotonin in some way, so why delay the big reveal and give serotonin its time in the sun to start things off. But don’t run off into the light just yet. First, read on and find out what makes serotonin so special.
Sunlight improves sleep
We’ve all been there. The alarm clock is set early in the morning and for some reason, you just can’t seem to get your head down. We try so many sleeping techniques and still end up tossing and turning most of the night. And when we hear that alarm the next day, our bodies and minds feel like they’ve not had any time to recharge.
There’s a reason for this. Not enough time spent in the sun. Now I know what you’re thinking, how can sunlight possibly help induce sleep? Well, we’re bringing it back to science and our good friend serotonin. You see, we also release hormones when it’s dark. This is melatonin, it’s the hormone that helps us sleep and keeps track of our circadian rhythm.
However, for melatonin to work properly, it needs to operate alongside serotonin. Sunshine regulates the circadian rhythm by exposing our senses to the daylight hours, meaning that when it starts to get dark, it will be felt on a subconscious level. Meaning you’ll be wide awake and raring to go long before your alarm clock starts up.
Sunlight reduces stress
You thought we had finally stopped talking about serotonin and melatonin, didn’t you? Well, the sun works its magic in a way that weaves this all together. It is known that stress is related to how much sleep we’re getting, as that in itself helps to reduce stress levels. But just the act of being out in the sun also has a huge impact on our daily tension. Like submerging yourself in a warm bath, the heat of the sun on our skin can instantly send us to serenity, where you will physically feel your stresses float away.
Another reason can be because when we’re exposed to natural sunlight, it’s usually due to exercise, relaxation or travel. We’re not confined to a desk or focused on a screen. When we’re outside in the sun, we feel freedom. And that can make all the difference in reducing stress.
Sunlight unlocks your body’s true potential
They say a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Well, sunlight isn’t only beneficial for our moods but our bodies, also. And problems relating to health can have an adverse effect on one’s mood. But what is that in the sky? Is it a bird? A plane? No, it’s the sun. And it’s bringing a host of benefits to our health.
When exposed to sunlight for about 15-30 minutes a day, it provides the body with Vitamin D, which helps us maintain calcium levels and prevents brittle, misshapen bones.
Additionally, Vitamin D is vital for the immune system and can be strengthened with an improved exposure to sunlight. A healthy immune system can help reduce the risk of illness, infections and even some cancers.
Sunlight alleviates depression
Now, you might be getting to this point of the article and assume that it’s a given that sunlight helps fight against depression. I mean, why wouldn’t it? It improves our sleep and stress levels, whilst also keeping our bones healthy and preventing illness. But depression is a sensitive issue. And sadly, it is on the rise today. A big reason for this is due to the internet and technology. As a society, we’re exposed to too much screen time.
Because of all of these daily distractions, it’s only too easy to become exposed or even addicted to these vices. However, the best part about sunlight beaming down upon us – it makes it almost impossible to be able to see our screens! It’s almost as if the sun is shouting at us to turn our devices off and bask in its glory.
All jokes aside, even during the recent pandemic, it was recommended that people still go outside for light exercise. This is because it’s scientifically proven that exposure to the sun or just being outside during the day has a huge impact on our lives.
All in all, getting out into the sunlight isn’t only good for your mood, it works wonders for your entire wellbeing. Now, what are you still doing reading this? You may be feeling pretty comfortable right now, but your sofa will still be there tonight. The sun won’t. So release some of that serotonin and get out there.
Exploring the ways that the natural world is good for us? more about how the natural world is good for us? You might like Grounding Yourself: A Long Lost Connection