Want to increase the quality of your sleep, reduce your stress, boost your mood, and improve your overall health?
The solution might be simpler than you think.
Specifically, view sunlight outdoors in the morning close to the time that you wake.
The Benefits of Viewing Sunlight
Viewing sunlight is critical to help set your biological clock (aka circadian rhythm). When sunlight reaches your eyes soon after waking, it triggers a neural circuit control that controls the timing of the hormones cortisol (the stress hormone) and melatonin.
The timing of this hormone release greatly affects not only the quality of your sleep, but also your physical and mental health.
Stanford neuroscientist Dr. Huberman states on his podcast Huberman Lab, “Getting sunlight in your eyes first thing in the morning is absolutely vital to mental and physical health. It is perhaps the most important thing that any and all of us can and should do in order to promote metabolic well-being, promote the positive function of your hormone system, and get your mental health steering in the right direction.”
Some of the benefits of viewing sunlight include the following:
- Increases quality of sleep
- Helps to fall asleep faster
- Regulates hormones
- Boosts mood
- Reduces stress
- Prevents disease
- Increases vitamin D production & absorption
- Prevents myopia
Sunlight & Ocular Health
In addition to many physical and mental benefits of viewing sunlight, it is also good for eye health and vision. There is a growing body of research that shows that a lack of direct sunlight may reshape the human eye and impair vision. Research shows that it is especially important for young children to spend time outdoors every day for normal eye development and to prevent myopia.
It is important however, to balance sunlight exposure to the eye with protection. Too much sun exposure to the eyes can increase the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancerous growths.
But what if it is cloudy outside?
While the sun may not be directly shining on you, UVA/UVB rays are still present on cloudy days. A couple extra minutes outside when it is cloudy will allow you to reap the same benefits that you would on a clear day.
Additional Sunlight Tips
Our number one sunlight light tip? Don’t overthink things. Boiled down, the research shows that there are significant benefits if you simply try to view natural light soon after waking, increase the amount you view during the day, and then minimize the amount of light you intake before bed.
Want to take things a step further? Here are some additional tips to maximize light’s amazing benefits.
- View sunlight within the first hour of waking.
- Aim to get natural light in your eyes for at least 10-15 minutes in the morning. If it’s cloudy outside, aim for 20-30 minutes.
- Don’t wear sunglasses or a sun visor during your morning intake of the sun.
- View sunlight outdoors (sitting next to a window doesn’t count, although it is better than nothing).
- Work to get as much sunlight as you can throughout your day (make sure to wear sunscreen).
- Minimize the amount of artificial light you expose yourself to two hours before your usual bedtime.
Optimizing our health often boils down to small, simple, consistent choices. Adding sunlight into your daily routine is an easy way to boost not only your ocular health, but also your overall health and well-being.