Here in the Pacific Northwest we have a remarkable seasonal experience with sunlight. In the Winter, days become quite short, and the light we get is often muted because of the frequently grey skies. Vitamin D supplementation during this time of year is essential for well-being on many levels. But what if I told you that the Sun itself is the best and most readily available nutrient that we can get once the light changes? When the Summer comes along, the days start as early as 4:30am and end close to 10pm. And the opportunity for some life-enhancing sunlight is vast. This year, if you don't already, be sure to get outside in it as often as possible, especially in the morning. Your body, mood, and sleep cycles will thank you for it.
Did you know that this one nutrient (sunlight) is the basis of all life on this planet? It can prevent disease and even cue your body to produce hormones that it needs for optimal health each day. Not only that, but sunlight can regenerate the cells in your eye (1). It can give your skin a healthy glow, and increase dopamine (2), the feel good hormone.
All life on this planet captures this nutrient in one form or another and uses it to produce energy, heal, produce hormones and communicate. In fact, exposure to this nutrient at the right time (nutrient timing) can actually protect you against exposure to sunlight if, at a later time, you get too much. Lack of sunlight causes disease, depression and ill health.
So when is the BEST time to get out into the sun? The morning hours between 5am and 10am, especially up here in the beautiful PNW. And it is best to do so without sunscreen, and as much exposed skin as you can manage. Just twenty minutes is enough to charge up your mitochondrial function, regenerate your melatonin, and get ample Vitamin D production.
Imagine starting your day, watching the sunrise, hearing all the birds chirping, smelling the fresh air, and sipping your coffee. Dreamy, right? This is actually what I do every day that I am able. This routine habit provides me with energy, inspiration, Vitamin D, and a very real and meaningful connection to my vitality. Something that few people know is that UV light, especially in the morning, is what regenerates the melatonin cycle in us.
Many people actually fear sunlight because they have only ever been told that too much can cause cancer and so they smother themselves in sunscreen and avoid it as much as possible. While it is true that too much sunlight can be harmful, not getting enough sunlight can have equally bad affects on our health. One correlation that is often missed is sleep disturbances and irregular melatonin cycles as a result of lack of sunlight. Not to mention Vitamin D deficiency and its affect on immune function, mood, and hormone production.
You don't need to go sunbathe naked for 5 hours a day, but if you did change your routine to include 20 minutes of unprotected morning sunlight exposure on a daily basis, I can promise you that you would feel more energized, get better sleep, and have a deeper connection to the sun cycles, which are pretty incredible to experience.