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With the days becoming shorter and winter being just around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to talk about the importance of sunlight as we go into the darker and colder months. 

What Does Natural Light Do? 

Boosts Serotonin 

Natural sunlight plays a large part in both our physical and mental health. During the summer it’s much easier for us to access this sunlight than it is during the colder winter months. Sunlight helps boost the production of serotonin in the brain, a feel-good chemical that controls happiness whilst keeping you calm, content, and focused. The winter months can often leave us feeling down, tired, and irritable due to the lack of sunlight. This is commonly known as SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

Increases Vitamin D Synthesis 

Sun exposure has the ability to increase Vitamin D synthesis in our bodies. Vitamin D plays a critical role in preventing bone loss as we grow older, aiding our immune systems, protecting us against common colds and reducing the chances of weight gain, fatigue, and heart disease. Increased Vitamin D synthesis also benefits the absorption and use of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, which upregulates the important processes behind healing. 

Good Quality Sleep 

Studies have shown that exposure to sunlight during the morning is associated with reduced sleep latency. This means the time it usually takes you to fall asleep is shortened and the length of your sleep is extended. Getting good quality sleep is key for productivity, energy levels, mood, reduced dependency on caffeine and sugar, and improved healing rates if you get an injury. 

How Much Sunlight is Recommended? 

Experts have suggested that we aim for 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure per day to provide us with the benefits listed above whilst still staying protected from negative UV exposure and developing sunburn. 

How to Get Sunlight in The Winter Months 

If you work indoors and are struggling to get enough sunlight during the dark autumn and winter months, here are some tips and tricks: 
• Try and sit near a window whilst working to get some exposure 
• Squeeze in a morning walk if you can 
• Take a break outside to get some fresh air instead of having lunch at your desk 
• Open all the blinds in your home 
• Exercise outdoors or next to a window 
• Add mirrors near to your workspace for natural light to bounce off. 
Getting more natural sunlight during the winter months may not solve all your problems but it may help you to feel a little brighter. 
Tagged as: mental health
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