For many of us, the morning is a time to rush through our routine, and we often forget to take advantage of one of our most essential resources – the sun. If you are in a location that observes daylight savings, it has just ended, and that means our days are shorter, which means fewer hours exposed to the sun. Morning sunlight is even more important than ever for us in this boat. Creating an imaginary sun becomes a way of life in the Northwest. I liken myself to one of those household plants we keep moving around the house to get the best light and warmth to thrive. The plant constantly needs careful nutrition and nurturing. So much work, right? I use that analogy to remind myself about the importance of physically, emotionally, and mentally finding the light. Sunlight has been proven to provide numerous benefits, and the morning is the best time to soak it up. Let’s discuss the surprising benefits of sunlight in the morning and how you can make the most of it daily.
Boost of energy
We’ve all heard of the dreaded morning blues – that groggy feeling that follows the sound of our alarm clock. However, just a few minutes of exposure to sunlight can boost our mood and energy levels. This is because sunlight helps to stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain, which helps to regulate our mood. Not only is this the perfect way to start your day, but it also helps to get you going without having to resort to caffeine.
I like to get that first-morning sun by standing near a window and letting the sun or cloudy daylight (for those in the PNW) shine on my face. It doesn’t have to be long; sometimes, I get it in while brushing my teeth, but it is a concerted effort to allow my eyes to let the natural daylight flood my eyes.
Improved sleep quality
While we often associate sunlight with waking us up in the morning, it can actually have the opposite effect if we’re exposed to it at the right time. Exposure to morning sunlight helps regulate our circadian rhythm and improve our sleep quality. This means getting a better night’s sleep, which is crucial for our overall health and well-being.
Studies have shown that with exposure to sunlight in the morning, nocturnal melatonin production occurs sooner, which means an easier time entering into sleep at night. Serotonin, melatonin’s precursor, is also affected by exposure to daylight. Low serotonin and melatonin levels have been linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
I have found that exposure to early morning light has helped me fall asleep at a more ideal time at night and wake up feeling more refreshed and vibrant. One easy way to track sleep quality is to journal the time you went to bed when you woke up, and how your body and mind feel after sleep. This small task of tracking can provide you with lots of valuable knowledge to support your health.
Vitamin D production
The sun has an incredible way of providing us with the vitamin D our bodies need to function properly. Vitamin D is essential for bone health, immune system, and overall well-being. Morning sunlight exposure is particularly effective because the rays are less intense, meaning you can enjoy the benefits without worrying about the harmful effects of UV radiation.
Proper vitamin D levels have clear health benefits, and studies show health-related issues connected to vitamin D deficiency, such as an increase in chronic diseases, including autoimmune diseases, some cancers, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, schizophrenia, and infectious disease.
Improved focus and concentration
Staying focused and attentive throughout the day can be challenging with so many distractions. However, exposure to sunlight in the morning has been shown to improve brain function and increase concentration levels. This is especially true for individuals who struggle with seasonal affective disorder or other mood disorders.
While more studies need to be done, and the connection between vitamin D and focus and concentration is not fully understood, it is believed that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to cognitive decline by increasing inflammation, reducing brain plasticity, and impairing neuronal function.
Improved skin health
We often associate the sun with harmful effects on our skin, but morning sunlight exposure can have beneficial effects. Studies have shown that morning sunlight exposure can improve skin conditions such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Because sunlight reduces overall inflammation, sunlight in small increments can help reduce inflammation on the surface of the skin. In addition, it can also help to boost circulation, providing your skin with essential nutrients and oxygen.
However, it is important to note that excessive sun exposure can also be harmful to your skin. UV rays can cause sun damage, leading to premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and even skin cancer. Therefore, it is crucial to know your skin’s sensitivity to the sun and protect your skin accordingly.
By taking advantage of the sunlight in the morning, we can reap numerous benefits for a healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s for boosting our mood, enhancing focus, improving our skin health, or enjoying vitamin D, morning sunlight exposure is critical. Rather than rush through our morning routine, take the time to get outside and soak up the sun. Your body and mind will thank you.
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