The health benefits of longer, lighter daysThursday 01 April 2021
Now that the clocks have sprung forward and we get to enjoy longer, lighter days, it’s worth looking into all the positive benefits this additional sunlight has on our health and well-being.
The extended daylight during the warmer months is the perfect antidote to what has often been referred to as the ‘winter blues’. Since the condition ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ was given its name and entered our consciousness in the early ‘80s, the significance of the impact of daylight on our health and happiness has become well-established.
Even thinking back over the past year, most of us would probably agree that lockdown 1 was more tolerable than lockdown 3 owing, at least in part, to the glorious weather that accompanied it. The role that exposure to sunlight has on mood and other aspects of our health is quite impressive. So why is daylight so good for us?
Boosts vitamin D
Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it‘s directly exposed to sunlight, meaning the more hours of daylight afforded to us by the time of year, the more opportunity we have to get outdoors and take advantage. Never forget the importance of sunscreen though as without it you’ll be doing more harm than good regardless of your skin tone or propensity to burn!
Vitamin D is great for your mood, your energy and your bones. It reduces your risk of developing multiple sclerosis and heart disease, as well as helping decrease your likelihood of coming down with colds and the flu.
Getting enough high-quality sleep is crucial to our well-being. Lighter mornings during spring and summer months enable us to get out of the house earlier and take in the morning sunlight before going about our day as normal, and this is key to maintaining a consistent sleep pattern.
Morning sunlight induces sleep earlier and improves its quality and duration, so a nice early morning walk (or cup of tea in the garden) is a great idea if your circadian rhythm needs a bit of a reset.
Increases serotonin levels
Sunlight triggers the release of hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping us feel calm and focused.
Without enough sun exposure, your serotonin levels can dip. Low levels of serotonin are associated with a higher risk of low mood and depression.
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