WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT, HAVE MORE ENERGY, SLEEP BETTER, AND BOOST YOUR MOOD?
MORNING SUNLIGHT MIGHT BE WHAT’S MISSING. HERE’S WHY.
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WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT YOU GET INTO THE SUNLIGHT WHEN YOU FIRST WAKE UP?
Sunlight exposure signals the release of the hormone serotonin and tells the body that it is time to wake up and sets up our circadian rhythms for the day.
Here are some of the possible benefits of getting a healthy dose of sunlight first thing in the morning to help optimize your serotonin levels, unless you’re a vampire of course.
- Feeling calm and relaxed
- Mood booster
- Better sleep
- A decrease in the severity and frequency of headaches and migraines.
- Lower BMI
- It helps fight free radicals which lead to aging.
Sign me up for those benefits!
Exposure to sunlight regulates your body’s circadian rhythm. A study done by Northwestern University School of medicine found that changes to a circadian rhythm were associated with an increase in weight without an increase in calories on animal studies. Not getting your morning rays may affect how your body processes its food, its satiety levels, and hunger. Crazy! Without enough exposure to sunlight, your serotonin levels may not reach optimal levels and are associated with depression and other negative effects.
THE AYURVEDIC MEDICINE VIEW ON MORNING SUNLIGHT EXPOSURE
I enjoy looking up perspectives from other cultures and alternative medicine viewpoints. I especially like the ayurvedic medicine view on morning sunlight exposure.
They believe that we live in sync with the rhythms of nature and when we are out of sync, we experience symptoms such as lethargy, cravings, and needing afternoon naps. All of our cells in our bodies have “internal clocks” that help regulate the natural body processes like the metabolism. Ayurvedic medicine seeks to connect our bodies internal clocks with natures rhythm.
The Ayurvedic perspective is that we have two 12-hour clocks. Sunrise to sunset and then sunset to sunrise. Within each of these two cycles are three sub-cycles. Let’s just focus on the very first cycle of the day which is called the “daytime kapha cycle.” This is the time of the day that they believe our muscular and structural strength is the highest and the best time for physical labor. They believe that to align yourself with this cycle you should start your morning with sunlight exposure.
HERE’S MY TAKE ON IT
When I do practice getting out into the sunlight first thing in the morning, I feel better. I feel like I have higher vitality, more in harmony with nature, and it just feels good on my skin and face. Sunlight exposure is important to me, and I just don’t feel right without it.
HERE ARE SOME STRATEGIES THAT YOU CAN TRY
- Go outside and get some direct sunlight for at least 20-30 minutes without sunscreen or sunglasses. Sunglasses block the sun’s rays from entering your retina and prevents the signal to increase serotonin. Sunscreen also blocks some of the benefits of sunlight on your skin such as vitamin D production. While outside, this can be a good time to sip some tea, read a book, meditate, or better yet, take a walk.
- Open up your blinds up first thing when you wake up. Let the sunshine in.
- Turn your room lights on. Never wakeup and then hangout in a dark or dim room. This is only going to throw off your cycle and you are not going to get that energy boost you need.
- If getting out into the sun is difficult, you can purchase a light box. I like to put mine in the bathroom and use it while I am getting ready for the day. I recommend one that has at least 10,000 lux. They can get expensive. Here is an affordable one that I recommend…
Light Box: https://amzn.to/2CGkb1U
HOW CAN HEALTHCARE PRACTITIONERS HELP PATIENTS WITH MORNING LIGHT?
If you work with patients in a hospital or an inpatient facility, then you know that they usually struggle with sleep while there. They experience lots of interruptions while they are sleeping, are in a new environment, possibly experiencing pain, and have a lack of daytime sunlight exposure.
If you are working with patients in this environment, I suggest trying to help the patient stay in tune with the light and dark cycles outside. Mimicking the level of light outside can help them fall asleep faster and have a better quality of sleep later. If the patient is allowed to be outside, I would bring them out or have someone help you do this. It doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time, and I bet your patient will appreciate it.
Interesting to note, the new Kaiser Hospital in San Diego, CA is using new lighting technology to help the patients stay in their natural circadian rhythms and allowing more natural light into the hospital.
Share in the comments below if you believe you are getting enough morning light exposure and what your strategies are. If you are not, then what is one strategy you plan to use to increase your exposure? If you are a healthcare practitioner, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject and how you plan to help your patients in this way?