Since Diwali is around the corner and we are dedicating the entire month to understanding the relationship between light and sleep, today we explore the link between the biggest and brightest light of them all - the Sun - and the impact it has on our sleep.
Sunlight and Sleep - Is There a Link?
If you’ve been finding it difficult to get into a healthy sleep pattern, or find that your once clockwork-like sleep cycle is now non-existent, you might want to consider that you haven’t been getting enough sunlight, especially if you’ve been staying indoors more than usual, since the Covid outbreak began.
Several studies have shown that people exposed to sunlight during the morning hours do indeed sleep better at night than those who aren’t.
In fact, they even fall asleep quicker and are more likely to sleep undisturbed through the night.
Sunlight Helps Calibrate Your Sleep Cycle
Sunlight assists in a) the release of Cortisol, which helps you stay alert and b) in suppressing Melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep.
If you don’t get enough sunlight during the day it could get difficult to ‘snap out’ of your sleepy state and to feel energised for the day. The result is you feeling ‘wired’ when bedtime arrives, and unable to sleep, in spite of being tired. Sunlight in the morning helps you feel energised during the day and expending that energy during the day helps you feel sleepy at night, when melatonin kicks in.
By getting enough sunshine in the morning (ideally anytime between the hours of 8am to 12pm) you can help your body fall in line with its natural sleep-wake and energy cycles.
Sunlight Helps You Feel Better
Sunlight helps in Serotonin production. Known as the ‘happy chemical’, Serotonin not only contributes to you feeling good and has a wide variety of other functions in the body, it is also the precursor to Melatonin, which, as already explained, helps you sleep well. Without adequate exposure to sunlight, this important chemical cycle can get disrupted.
Exposure to sunlight has also been found to improve one’s mood and stave off feelings of depression and lethargy. “Feeling good” plays an important part in helping us feel relaxed and having a peaceful sleep at night.
So, the next time you’ve been up all night fighting insomnia, resist the urge to sleep in. Get out of bed; get outside; and let the sun help you #WakeUpPositive.