Cart

Your cart is empty

Continue shopping now

Sunlight and Your Health

Sporty & Rich Wellness - Sunlight and Your Health


By: Shivani Shah


The east and west side highways are some of my favorite places to run in NYC. On morning runs along the east side, I pass by groups of elderly Chinese men and women practicing tai chi. No matter how painful the run is, I find myself smiling at the sight. Tai chi is an ancient art that, in addition to physical movement, integrates morning sun viewing into the practice. This time of year proves mentally and physically draining for many people. A good deal of us are prone to feeling down during the fall and winter months, and this is only exacerbated by the shorter and darker days. Whether you live in a state that enforces daylight saving time or not, this time of year demonstrates what we instinctively know to be true - light is of paramount importance to our physical and mental wellbeing. 

 

Our cardinal light source, the sun, has been revered as a source of life and nourishment. The earliest record of sun exposure yielding health benefits came from the Egyptians some 6000 years ago. Although sun exposure is most popularly known as a causative element in skin cancer, it is also linked with a host of positive health outcomes. For example, it is widely known that sunlight provides Vitamin D, which is crucial for immunity and other health outcomes. However, scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center recently found an immune-supporting role of sunlight exposure that is separate from vitamin D production. Their research found that low levels of blue light, found in sunlight, helps activate key immune cells. 

It can be difficult to make time for sunlight every day. As the days shorten, I encourage you to be mindful and deliberate about your light exposure, whether it be natural or artificial. The following is not medical advice. Please be sure to consult your physician before implementing new practices into your routine. 


1) Start each day with sunlight. As little as 2 minutes (but ideally 10 to 15) every morning can help promote positive metabolic and hormonal functions.

 

2) Most notably, morning sunlight triggers the release of cortisol which boosts alertness. Most of us know cortisol as the “stress hormone” and associate it with negative health outcomes. While this is true, it is lesser known that humans naturally have elevated cortisol levels in the morning, to promote wakefulness. Viewing sunlight upon waking will also regulate your circadian rhythm for the rest of the day by serving as a timer for melatonin release. And no, receiving sunlight through a window doesn’t count. Windows filter out a majority of the blue light wavelengths that are critical for stimulating the eyes. 

 

2) Keep your workspace well-lit. Not everyone can get outdoors in the morning; however, artificial light can still provide benefits. For the first half of your day, set your workspace up so that you are getting as much overhead light as possible (but still comfortable). This light stimulation of the eyes helps to further facilitate your bodily wakefulness mechanisms. 

 

3) Avoid late-night light. We are all guilty of the “mindless scrolling before bed” routine. Repeated and regular exposure to bright light during late night hours triggers a suppression of dopamine, among a host of other problems. 

The winter is already a mentally difficult time for many who struggle with seasonal affective disorder. When possible, switch out the pre-bedtime Netflix for a book. 

 

References

Aldahan, Adam S., et al. “SUN Exposure in History.” JAMA Dermatology, vol. 152, no. 8, 2016, p. 896., https://doi.org/10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.5660

“American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Eliminate Daylight Saving Time.” American Academy of Sleep Medicine – Association for Sleep Clinicians and Researchers, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 14 Sept. 2020, https://aasm.org/american-academy-of-sleep-medicine-calls-for-elimination-of-daylight-saving-time/

Commisso, Danielle. “This Year, Even More Americans Oppose Turning Back the Clocks.” CivicScience, 31 Oct. 2022, https://civicscience.com/this-year-even-more-americans-oppose-turning-back-the-clocks/

Huberman, Andrew, director. YouTube/Maximizing Productivity, Physical & Mental Health with Daily Tools | Huberman Lab Podcast #28, Huberman Labs, 12 July 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXvDEmo6uS4. Accessed 10 Nov. 2022. 

Petrowski, Katja, et al. “The Effects of Light Exposure on the Cortisol Stress Response in Human Males.” Stress, vol. 24, no. 1, 2020, pp. 29–35., https://doi.org/10.1080/10253890.2020.1741543

Phan, Thieu X., et al. “Intrinsic Photosensitivity Enhances Motility of T Lymphocytes.” Scientific Reports, vol. 6, no. 1, 20 Dec. 2016, https://doi.org/10.1038/srep39479

Previous
Next

The Wellness Club

Vitamin Sea: 5 Mind, Body, and Beauty Benefits of Ocean Water

Vitamin Sea: 5 Mind, Body, and Beauty Benefits of Ocean Water

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @emma.walsh Author Isak Dinesen famously said, "The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea." We all know that staying active and releasing emotions is vital for our health—and as someone who grew up on the coast going to the beach year round, I also believe...

Read more
Intermittent Fasting: Is It Right for You?

Intermittent Fasting: Is It Right for You?

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By @coreflexpilates founder Chris Bardawil Over the past few years intermittent fasting has become the golden child of the wellness community all due to the miraculous effects it can have on your health.   Intermittent fasting is avoiding eating or drinking...

Read more
Skinimalism: A New Trend in Dermatology?

Skinimalism: A New Trend in Dermatology?

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

A Note from a Dermatologist: @dermahealthnutrition The world of aesthetic dermatology is experiencing a refreshing shift towards a trend known as "skinimalism" (Skin + Minimalism). This movement is a response to the overwhelming abundance of skincare products and complex routines that have dominated the beauty industry in recent years. At its core, skinimalism advocates a minimalist approach...

Read more
Burnt out? Here Are the Signs and Road to Recovery

Burnt out? Here Are the Signs and Road to Recovery

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @ericabassotherapy  Many of us are busier than ever before. We juggle demanding careers, personal responsibilities, and social obligations to name a few, and if you’re a high-achiever this list may never seem to end. Burnout is a growing concern today due...

Read more
How Alcohol Effects Your Gut

How Alcohol Effects Your Gut

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: Megan Tomlin @gooodmoodfoood By now, almost everyone knows that alcohol is not the healthiest thing for our minds and bodies. But what do we know about the effect that alcohol has on our gut microbiome health? Before I answer this, there are a few terms I want to define for...

Read more
The Unseen Mental Health Challenges High Achievers Face

The Unseen Mental Health Challenges High Achievers Face

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

 By: @ericabassotherapy It's hopeful to see how much society has progressed in embracing mental health discussions. But as a mental health provider, I still notice gaps in our understanding of accurate mental health information. We can all get better at recognizing signs of mental health struggles and feeling empowered to seek support when needed. As a licensed...

Read more
The Importance of Skin pH for a Clear, Healthy Complexion

The Importance of Skin pH for a Clear, Healthy Complexion

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @drmelissa.co The concept of the skin barrier has become a part of many skincare aficionado’s vocabulary, but what does it really mean?  It is important to remember...

Read more
The Ancient Ritual of Oil Pulling

The Ancient Ritual of Oil Pulling

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @emily_campbell Oil pulling has been an ancient ritual in India and is a sacred practice that has roots in ancient Hindu texts and scriptures. Known in Sanskrit as Kavala Graha or Gandusha, the regime of swishing around 1 tbsp of oil for 15-20 minutes and then spitting it out is primarily used for its oral health benefits. This simple regime has been...

Read more
The Mental Health Benefits From Travel

The Mental Health Benefits From Travel

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @ericabassotherapy We can all probably recall that moment when you’re finally feeling relaxed on vacation and you hear yourself expressing, “I need to do this more often!”. Despite the research that supports the mental health benefits of taking regular vacations and traveling, it’s been found that a significant number of American workers don’t take all of their allocated...

Read more
High Intensity Exercise: Good or Bad?

High Intensity Exercise: Good or Bad?

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By @coreflexpilates founder Chris Bardawil HIIT or high intensity interval training has become a pretty normal part of modern training, its something you have probably already done without even realising it. It was popularised over a decade ago with Crossfit and now modernised in many forms of classes we see at gyms as well as being seen all over the web with HIIT routines and...

Read more
5 Benefits of Reformer Pilates

5 Benefits of Reformer Pilates

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @coreflexpilates, founder Chris Bardawil Reformer pilates is everywhere, it's not just all over social media we are also seeing our favourite celebs doing it. The reality is reformer pilates has been a staple of many people’s exercise routines for over a decade now, and for good reason.

Read more
Burnout: What Is It and How to Recover

Burnout: What Is It and How to Recover

Translation missing: en.blogs.article.by Taylor Davis

By: @drmelissa.co Burnout is a concern I see often in clinical practice. Although it is not a diagnosable disease, it is a syndrome, meaning it is defined by a set of symptoms, but does not have a consistent progression or clear treatment plan. In other words, burnout is a very real issue, but may look different from person to person and require...

Read more