Getting morning sunlight can benefit your mental and physical health in numerous ways. We should fall asleep at dusk and arise with the sun; however, our biological clocks have been sabotaged by modern living.
Bright fluorescent overhead lights and blue lights from screens can suppress melatonin levels, making it more difficult to sleep at night. Since we usually keep lights on well past the time our bodies begin melatonin production, our circadian rhythms become imbalanced.
However, morning sunlight can help us get back in tune with nature and ourselves. The sun doesn’t just provide nourishment for our physical self; it also rejuvenates the soul! Below, we’ll go over a few ways to improve your health by getting some fresh air for a few minutes each morning.
Morning Sunlight Helps You Heal in Four Surprising Ways, According to Science
Read these four compelling reasons to take a short sunbath to start your day.
1 – Being outdoors in the morning improves sleep quality.
Our minds and bodies greatly benefit from exposure to morning sunlight. The eyes have over two million working parts and require full-spectrum sunlight to maintain your circadian rhythm. When morning sunlight enters the eyes, it sends crucial information to the brain and body.
For instance, sunlight acts as an alarm clock, signaling the pituitary gland that it’s time to wake up. The pituitary gland responds by releasing cortisol and serotonin, both of which prepare your body for the day ahead.
Morning light simultaneously suppresses melatonin production. However, the pineal gland metabolizes serotonin into melatonin later in the day, inducing sleepiness.
According to Jacob Liberman, OD, Ph.D., each cell in our body depends on light as an energy source to function correctly. Indoor light offers some benefits, but it can’t compare to sunlight’s power and healing properties.
When sunlight enters our eyes, it guides our bodies through “photobiomodulation.” This refers to how light interacts with cell mitochondria, which converts energy from food into energy needed to power the cells.
So, in summary, morning sunlight doesn’t just help you shake off that sleepy feeling. It aids in producing crucial hormones such as serotonin and cortisol, which allow you to carry out your daily duties. Morning sunlight also ensures we get restorative sleep each night since serotonin is a precursor to melatonin, regulating our circadian rhythms. Finally, morning sunlight provides energy to the trillions of cells in our bodies, helping prepare us for the day ahead.
2 – Getting morning sunlight leads to a better mood.
So, we know from the information above that morning sunlight helps release serotonin via the pituitary gland. Serotonin isn’t just necessary to help you sleep at night, though; it’s crucial for maintaining a positive mindset. When we have access to full-spectrum sunlight in the morning, it helps ward off depression by ramping up serotonin production.
Many doctors recommend light therapy for people suffering from seasonal depression. Those living in cold climates that don’t get much sunlight may recommend bright, indoor lights called lightboxes.
However, even these lights can’t compare to the lux levels of sunlight. On a cloudy winter day, the sun will produce lux levels of 1000 or greater, far surpassing the power of indoor lighting. On sunny summer days, sunlight can deliver light levels 11 to 43 times higher than indoor fluorescent lighting.
So, if you’re feeling down or drained these days, make sure to get at least 30 minutes of direct sunlight each day. Morning sunlight is preferable, but any sunlight will help boost your mood.
3 – Exposure to morning sunlight improves physical health as well.
Morning sunlight doesn’t just boost your mental health and help you sleep better. It also improves physical health markers, such as stress levels and vision. Studies prove that lack of sunlight may increase risk factors for myopia or nearsightedness.
This outcome happens because indoor light is much dimmer than natural sunlight, and we typically stare at screens or books for hours. Our eyes should not look at one object for extended periods but rather scan our environment at a distance throughout the day.
In addition, since we’re diurnal creatures, our bodies and minds synchronize with the patterns of the sun and moon. Many health problems result when we disconnect from this natural cycle; unfortunately, poor health in modern times provides ample evidence. Simply getting outside more could eliminate many of our ailments in today’s world.
Sunlight helps increase the production of white blood cells in the body, warding off infections and bacteria. Also, morning sunlight can bolster heart health since it triggers the release of nitric oxide, shown to lower blood pressure.
Finally, sunlight exposure can reduce the risk of certain cancers such as colorectal, prostate, breast cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Scientists found that increased Vitamin D and immune system and circadian rhythm modulation played a role in reducing cancer risks.
4 – Morning sunshine may even help you lose weight.
If you’ve been trying to lose weight to no avail, perhaps early morning sunshine could help. According to one study, people who received morning sunlight weighed less throughout the study period. The authors said this: “Specifically, having a majority of the average daily light exposure above 500 lux (MLiT500) earlier was associated with a lower BMI. In practical terms, for every hour later of MLiT500 in the day, there was a 1.28 unit increase in BMI.”
Even after controlling for other factors such as food intake, sleep, and activity levels, individuals with morning light exposure weighed less.
The authors cited another study, which discovered that “exposure to at least 45 minutes of morning light (between six and nine am at 1300 lux) for three weeks in obese women resulted in reduced body fat and appetite.”
Final Thoughts on How Morning Sunlight Impacts Health
Most of us probably don’t go outside upon waking up in the morning due to tight schedules. Instead, we’d hit the snooze button than get morning sunlight for even fifteen minutes. However, studies prove that exposure to sunlight in the mornings can improve sleep quality, mood, and physical health.
If you want to feel more energetic and cheerful, walk outside when you wake up. Mother Nature knows what we need; we have to reconnect with her to receive the benefits.