Winter equinox challenges everyone one’s mood and mental health. One of the best protocols is free, and rises every day, sets every night. Sunshine offers many benefits for physical, mental, emotional, and psychological health. The positive impact is well documented. As more research is conducted, more benefits become clear.
- Sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin, a hormone which lifts mood and has a calming effect.
- Melatonin is another hormone whose production is stimulated by sunshine and daylight cycles. Proper levels of melatonin ensure healthy sleep cycles. It’s why a lack of exposure to sunshine can disrupt natural circadian rhythms of sleep.
- Sunlight affects the retina in a way to improve serotonin and melatonin levels.
- Good news! Five to 15 minutes of sunlight for two to three times each week on hands, forearms, and face can stimulate enough serotonin production to have a significant positive impact on health.
- 10am to 4pm are the best times for sunshine, which is most direct at the time. Care should be taken to minimize sunburn!
- Besides mood and sleep improvement, serotonin and melatonin can help improve bone health (including in aging persons), can reduce risk of cancers (e.g., pancreatic, colon, ovarian, and prostate); and, relieve skin conditions.
As daylight gets shorter (or, in Alaska disappears!) it can be hard to get outside. There are options. One great option is to have one of any number of affordable lamps or light bulbs which replicate the daylight spectrum inside home (example: OTT Lamps). Taking nutritional supplements can be helpful, but should not be pursued without checking in with your physician. Some have, for example, difficult reactions to melatonin.
Walking during daylight hours can offset the lack of sunlight, but keep in mind you’re getting reduced sunlight if you are bundled up!
What Are the Benefits of Sunlight? by Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA, in Healtline.com. April 1, 2019. Accessed 10.8.20.
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