I have spoken heavily about keeping your child’s room being dark for good quality sleep, but what if I also told you that sunlight exposure has just as much as an impact on your family’s sleep quality. Specifically exposure to morning light. Today I am going to explain why morning sun exposure can help your family sleep, all the benefits of sunlight for your health as well as understanding when you should be exposing yourself to the sunlight to receive the benefits of sleep.
Why is morning sun exposure helpful in getting quality sleep?
The short answer is: exposing your family to morning sunlight reinforces the circadian rhythm.
Now for the long answer. Your circadian rhythm controls many of your bodily processes, including your appetite, energy levels, hormone production, and body temperature. For sleep, our circadian rhythm tells us when to sleep and when to wake up. As humans, our circadian rhythm revolves around the suns patterns.
Now let me connect the dots for you in how the sun and sleep truly come together. To understand this concept I am going to be referring to three different types of hormones including: melatonin, serotonin and cortisol. Stay with me!
When we wake up for the day and expose ourselves to the morning sunlight our cortisol levels surge which in return kickstarts our circadian rhythm. Cortisol is the natural stress hormone known to trigger “fight or flight”. This activating hormone energizes our bodies and prepares us to meet the day. Get this! When we expose our eyes to the morning sun, you signal to your brain that it’s time to start suppressing the secretion of melatonin and start producing cortisol!
“When we expose our eyes to the morning sun, we signal to our brains that it’s to to start suppressing the secretion of melatonin and start producing cortisol.”
Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep. During the day we obviously don’t want this sleepy hormone around so we want to suppress it with the sun! At the end of the day when the sun begins to set our body slowly starts secreting melatonin to prepare our bodies for sleep. This is why it’s beneficial for you and your children to sleep in a pitch black room! In terms of melatonin production, the darker the better.
“At the end of the day when the sun begins to set our body slowly starts recreating melatonin to prepare our bodies for sleep.”
We have one more hormone to discuss that is related to the sunlight and our sleep. When we expose ourselves to the sun our brain also secretes serotonin. Serotonin is known as the happy hormone for its ability to lift mood, but it’s also important because serotonin plays an important role in the production of melatonin. When we don’t expose ourselves to the sun we lack the serotonin we need to produce melatonin, leaving us moody and hard to fall asleep.
What are all the benefits of exposing yourself to morning sunlight?
Morning sunlight has so many great health benefits including: good quality sleep, combats depression, boosts vitamin D production (which keeps your immune system healthy) and stronger bones.
“The sunlight aids in helping you gain good quality sleep, combats depression, boosts vitamin D production and stronger bones.”
When is the best time to expose yourself to the morning sunlight to gain maximum benefits?
The best time to expose yourself to the morning sun to gain the benefits of kick starting your circadian rhythm is within an hour of waking up for the day. The perfect morning sunshine is found between 8:00 A.M. and 10 A.M. At this time the sun is just strong enough to pack that immunity building punch, but not too strong to leave you a sunburn. Between 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. be sure to lather on the SPF to play it safe. Experts say to not wear a hat or sunglasses to get the maximum benefits of light exposure for sleep.
“The best time to expose yourself to the morning sun to gain the max benefits of kick starting your circadian rhythm is within an hour of waking up for the day.”
If I could have you take one thing away from all of this it would be to GO OUTSIDE! Let’s be honest, we are all happier, healthier and more well rested when we spend more time outside. This is SO IMPORTANT for your children. Get away from the screens and get outside. The benefits of being outside way out do the benefits of sitting inside and looking at a screen. Getting moving and get some sunshine!