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Sunlight, Sleep and Happiness

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

You’ll probably remember long summer days out as a child spent at the park or other outdoor places and falling asleep on the way home. You might also remember parents saying that ‘fresh air wears you out’. Well the good news is that spending time outside does help you sleep better but maybe not for the reasons that we might think.

Sunlight helps our bodies produce melatonin. Melatonin is known as the ‘starting gun’ for sleep- it tells us when it is time for sleep. As the sun goes down, our bodies start to release melatonin and this tells us it is time to sleep. This amazing chemical also has mild sedative properties. Sunlight helps our bodies produce serotonin- the ‘happy’ brain chemical that makes us feel that we are happy and coping well with life. Serotonin in turn helps produce melatonin.

A key point to remember here is that we need outside light for this process to happen well. The intensity of daylight, even on an overcast day is generally 20 times higher than daylight experienced indoors. On a sunny day, it can be 50 times higher- but don't forget to protect your skin using a good SPF product.

If we are not spending time outside, then we may not be producing enough melatonin and this can interfere with our ability to get off to sleep well. This can be made even worse if we are working in artificial light or doing shift work at night. So, what we can we do to make sure we are producing enough melatonin? Here are some suggestions:

· Go outside for breaks at work

· Eat lunch outside

· Go for a short walk

· Meet friends/family for outdoor activities

· Grab a cup of something hot and go and sit in the garden

Spending time outside can help us feel better, more relaxed and sleep better. So let’s get outside more and enjoy a better night’s sleep.

There are many other ways you can improve your sleep. Get in touch with me to find out how I can help you sleep better. I have regular sleep clinics using CBTi and hypnotherapy online or at my clinics in Harley Street, London and Herne Bay or Whitstable, Kent.

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