The Sun Is Out… Now What?

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Don’t put your SunBox away for the summer.

Research over the past 40 years now shows that the amount of sunlight has a big influence on your mood and sleep patterns. Light exposure can also regulate how tired you feel regardless of other weather factors like air pressure and precipitation.

We were designed to be outside. As humans, we evolved outdoors. Exposure to sunlight has been recognized for its positive effects on our mood for hundreds of years. In the second century AD, Aristaeus noted “Lethargic people are to be laid in the light and exposed to the rays of the sun, for the disease is gloom.”

Research has identified a link between light, climate, and self-reported happiness levels. Warmer average temperatures in the winter and lower average temperatures in the summer seem to be correlated with increased happiness. And of course, mild winters and cooler summers make it easy to get outdoors throughout the year. In addition to facilitating physical activity, simply spending time outside has been associated with lower stress levels and increased well-being.

It works like this:

  • The Hypothalamus is our brain’s control center.

Light affects the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for the body’s circadian rhythms, moods, sleep and appetite. The hypothalamus receives signals from the eyes based on the amount and type of light the body is exposed to. These signals tell the brain to produce serotonin, melatonin and other hormones.

  • Serotonin levels are influenced when exposed to blue or white wavelengths, like the kind found in natural light, the brain produces serotonin, which is responsible for regulating moods therefore you feel more awake and alert.
  • Melatonin levels are also regulated when our eyes see darkness, it triggers the brain to convert serotonin into melatonin which makes an individual feel more tired and affect neurotransmitters – meaning you want to sleep!

Getting enough of the right light is important. Many of us are not getting enough light exposure since we spend a great deal of time indoors, you may find using your SunBox can maintain your mood and sleep schedule. You will find that 10-15 minutes in the morning may be good for you; even in the summer!