Everything Under the Sun
Summer is in full swing and we are reaping the benefits of warmer days, more hours of sunlight and spending time outdoors as often as possible. While we look forward to this time all year, we can continue to maintain the advantages of nature in other seasons to boost our overall health and well-being.
We may assume that we have more energy, feel healthier and are cheerier simply because its summer, the season synonymous with playtime, friends, and family activities. When we investigate some of the scientific explanations for this, we can understand why it is important to replicate some of these practices in every season.
In the summer spending time outdoors, especially first thing in the morning is a treat. We feel better, without realizing that our mood is elevated instantly with early exposure to the sun. Even our metabolism benefits. The earlier we are in the natural light, the more regulated our metabolic functions are which can help maintain and synchronize our circadian rhythm, or internal body clock. Some research goes further to say early, and daily sunlight plays a role in regulating digestion, hunger, healing, memory, mood, and overall functioning.
The good news is, with more natural light, you can be more alert throughout the day, sleep better at night, build better athletic, cognitive, and immune functioning, lower your risk for physical disease, anxiety, and depression, and strengthen your overall quality of life. While we are less motivated to achieve enough sunlight exposure in the colder months, it is vital to our health. The more often we start our day with sunlight each morning, the better for our health. It is not a coincidence that our more sedentary, indoor lifestyles, running errands in cars or blocking our exposure to natural sun with accessories, sun block and cover has meant a decline in wellness.
The dark side of these health advantages is what light, specifically blue light does to our health. That habit of looking at a screen within a few hours before bed will wreck our health by negatively impacting our sleep, blood sugar levels and overall happiness. Once the sun is down, our natural state is to prepare for sleep, yet we regularly interrupt it with our use of technology, poor lighting for sleep and less daily exposure to sunlight in general. The body and mind crave routine, equilibrium, and the natural state as much as possible. Maybe this is considered boring, but it is critical to our health.
When we go to sleep just after screen time, we have decreased melatonin secretion and disrupted our ability to feel full after meals by increasing our levels of leptin which can put us in a prediabetic state. We know this, which is why the pharmaceutical market is rich with solutions for diabetes, obesity, sleep, and mood issues.
If you could elevate your mood, feel more energetic, regulate your metabolism, and strengthen your immune system would you do it by getting some natural sun early each day, and spending less time in artificial light after dark? Give it a try and see what happens.