Sunlight and Happiness: Why We Need Sunlight to Thrive

Why Is Sunlight Important?

Sunny days are not just about getting outside to play, or lounging at the pool, they are essential to much of our body’s (and mind’s) production of healthy and happy chemicals. The vitamins that the sun provides, and the chemicals that the sun triggers in the body and brain, are important for mood regulation and feeling well. 

5 Reasons Why We Need Sunlight: 

  1. Sunlight increases levels of a natural antidepressant in the brain, serotonin, which is triggered in the retina through sunlight exposure. Serotonin induces calm, collected, and alert feelings, and is a huge factor in patients who are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). 
  2. Getting regular sunlight hours and maintaining wake/sleep schedules during light and dark times of a 24-hour day is critical in the production of melatonin. Unfortunately, with artificial lighting, our body’s ability to produce melatonin is thrown off. We need the natural light, and the dark, to have even levels and natural sleep cycles that help our bodies thrive.
  3. Vitamin D, produced in our skin when the body is exposed to the sun, may play a key role in fighting goff depression and anxiety. It is available in supplemental form, but the results may not be as beneficial as normal exposure to the sun in reasonable amounts. Vitamin D also plays a key role in calcium absorption, which is necessary for bone, teeth, and heart health. 
  4. What goes along with sunlight? Quite often: fresh air. Getting outside, walking around, moving the body, is important for overall well being. Being outside when the air is fresh can increase levels of oxygen in the brain, resulting in a mood lift. In addition, exercising outside helps boost endorphins, which create a positive impact on mood. 
  5. Getting outside has the additional benefit of giving your brain a break from the light of computers as well as the task at hand. Taking a few minutes to change your view, your perspective, can bring you back refreshed, rejuvenated, and more alert. 

The Bottom Line: Get Outside

Even if you are only able to take a 10 minute break in your day during daylight hours, that time is so important!  Our bodies are not meant to stay indoors 24/7. We need natural sunlight, fresh air, and movement to thrive. Take some time out of your day to step into the light, even if it is just for a few minutes. Doing so daily may greatly impact your mood, and make for a better rest of your day. 

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