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How Sunlight Works Against Depression

Updated on March 20, 2014
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A Lack of Sunlight Can Lead to Depressions

What is the role of serotonin?
Natural daylight increases your body’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is produced by your pineal gland, when stimulated by outdoor light. This hormone has a significant influence on your mood, energy levels, fitness and well-being, hormone levels, sexuality, fertility, and even your life span. This means if we experience a lack of sunshine, the risk of feeling the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which is a form of depression with symptoms like unexplainable fatigue, anxiety, weight increase or even social withdrawal, are increased. Hence, we have to ensure that we achieve the right balance of exposure to light and darkness.

2 hours of sunlight a day are recommended
I suggest integrating “sunlight hours” in your daily routine. If you don’t have the time to spend the recommended two hours in the sun in order to maintain balanced serotonin levels, try 30 minutes. Don’t forget to protect your skin using sun screen though. If you have a dog, take him for regular walks. Not only your dog will enjoy this! If you are athletic, practice outdoor sports such as tennis, jogging or roller blading at regular time intervals. Don’t take the car to buy your groceries but ride your bike or walk instead.

Sleeping and melatonin
Serotonin also plays an important role for one of your most important natural cycles – your sleeping and waking hours. Exposure to light and darkness are the motor for this internal clock as well as the production of two essential hormones – serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin works together with its “partner”-hormone melatonin which is active at night in response to darkness. Melatonin levels rise at night and are released into the blood which makes you feel less alert and you will feel your body longing for sleep. Your body will only begin to produce Melatonin, however, if your environment is dimly lit. Even artificial light will prevent the release of melatonin. If your body doesn’t generate the appropriate quantity of melatonin, your sleep rhythm might become disrupted.

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Avoid artificial light at night!
Too much artificial light can lead to depressions. Scientists have found out that there is a connection between the rise of depressions and the increased use of artificial light. Research was carried out with mice that were exposed to a lighted room for a period of 24 hours while other mice were exposed to a regular light-dark cycle. The mice that were permanently exposed to light showed more depressive symptoms than the other ones.

Do what our ancestors did!
As our ancestors rested at night and were active during the day, dependent on natural light and darkness, it is self-evident that our body has adapted to this natural cycle of light and darkness. As the production of melatonin is suppressed at night through the use of artificial light, our body becomes confused. This disruption of the natural cycle of serotonin and melatonin production is believed to lead to depressive symptoms, according to doctors and scientists. The effect of artificial light at night leads to major societal, ecological, behavioral and health consequences and they are only now becoming evident.

Avoid watching TV and using the computer at night
Try to go to bed every day at the same time. This might be hard at the beginning because some people become so active at night, they start cleaning up, they use the computer that emits aggressive artificial light which keeps them awake until the early morning hours or they watch TV until they are finally able to fall asleep. All of those things are poison for our body. Try to avoid them and become healthier and happier. You will see the difference in your mood and energy levels in only a few weeks and you will notice that you can throw away your pills against headaches, your sleeping pills and all the other medication you are using to brighten up your day. But only one thing can really brighten it up: sufficient daylight during the day and the avoidance of artificial light at night. Try it!

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    • LivingFood profile image

      LivingFood 

      5 years ago

      Lots of good information here!

    • profile image

      cecilia 

      6 years ago

      Excelente Artigo,

      Precisamos ter hábitos saudáveis, e um deles usufruirmos da luz solar, dormir bem, evitar tv e computador a noite o que é muito difícil mas se faz necessário para uma boa e agradável saude....

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 

      6 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      This is information I will definitely try to use. I do feel so much better when I am outside. I think when living on a horse ranch and being outside made me feel so much healthier, needing to be outside, than now living in town. Thanks I didn't know any of this! I do know I need windows with sun shine beaming in!

    • Jennifer Madison profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer Madison 

      6 years ago from Lohmar

      Thanks so much!

    • Vinodkpillai profile image

      Vinodkpillai 

      6 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Informative and well written hub - welcome to hubpages and hope to see more of your hubs.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Nice article, welcome to our site

    • Jennifer Madison profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer Madison 

      6 years ago from Lohmar

      Unfortunately yes, people who work night shifts have significantly lower levels of serotonin, which is why they are more likely to suffer depressive symptoms.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 

      6 years ago

      Those people who do night-shifts are particularly vurnerable to having their sleep day-night cycles disrupted.

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