Let the Sun Shine In.

By Jillian

Would you like to sleep better, feel calmer, and have more energy? Then a really simple thing you can do to help is spending some time in natural sunlight in the morning!

Light is the main thing that contributes to a healthy (or unhealthy) day-night cycle, and has an influence on everything from body temperature to metabolism to sleep. The problem is, in the modern world we are subject to a lot of artificial light and stimuli that mess with our brains. Add to that often weird and wonderful shift work schedules or lifestyle factors and our body and mind can end up all over the place.

If we look back on our caveman ancestors, and some a little closer to our time before the proliferation of electric lighting we can understand a bit better how sunlight in the morning may help. Humans were designed to rise with the sun and sleep with the moon. Although evolution has seen many things change, we are not fast enough to evolve past this principle wiring of our brain.

Humans have evolved as diurnal creatures, that is we are designed to be awake during the daytime and asleep at night. Lifestyles contrary to that are reasonably new in terms of the evolutionary timeline.

In humans, melatonin is generally understood to trigger sleep, so when it gets dark it sends signals to the brain telling it to wind down for the day. The role of sunlight has the opposite effect, and when used effectively can improve many things such as mood, productivity, and importantly the timing and quality of your sleep.

Getting some sun in the morning just after waking, typically within the first hour after crawling out of bed, is a simple yet effective lifestyle change. Optimally we are looking for 30 to 45 minutes starting within that first hour, but anything is better than nothing. The aim is to get direct sunlight to your eyes, which means avoiding a hat or sunglasses (** this is about the sun on your eyes, so no issues with wearing sunscreen or clothing to ensure exposure to the dangers of sun are limited)

A great way to get this morning sun is going for a walk, run or ride - or given recent temperatures maybe a swim. Alternatively, you can just sit on the veranda or deck and enjoy a coffee or have your breakfast, as long as the light is hitting your eyes directly. Buuuut we are all busy right and this may not be a luxury we can indulge in, so look for practical ways to consistently work natural light into your morning. For example, you can get smaller amounts of sun exposure by opening blinds and windows while getting ready for work and school in the morning.

Give it a try and let us know how you go.

Stay tuned for next week when we discuss the other end of the day and your evening routine.

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