With emerging evidence showing that we are chronically lacking in vitamin D, absorbed through the skin from exposure to the sun, it’s clear that we need the sun now more than ever. During the winter months, the sun’s ultraviolet rays are not strong enough to be absorbed, and our bodies can only store this “sunshine” vitamin for a couple months at a time. So, by this time of the year, we desperately need that nourishing sunshine.
Luckily, the clocks went forward at 02.00am this morning and, although it may seem counterintuitive, losing an hour of sleep this Sunday may actually be a blessing in disguise.
A Boost In Mood
Daylight drifting into the evenings for longer will gift us the ability to dedicate more time to do what makes us happy. Seeing friends and socialising more, spending more time in the sunny outdoors, or booking those summer holidays are just some of the many exciting endeavours to look forward to. There’s also evidence to suggest that levels of serotonin, known as a mood boosting hormone, rise with increased exposure to sunlight. The increased serotonin coupled with the longer days is a perfect recipe to shake you out of those winter blues.
A Deeper Sleep
According to experts, sunlight helps regulate our circadian rhythm, a 24 hour internal clock that impacts sleep patterns, alertness, and cognitive function. Exposure to the sun early in the morning helps reinforce the strongest circadian cue to your brain to stop producing melatonin (the hormone that promotes sleep) to initiate wakefulness. At night, the brain tells the body to produce melatonin to induce sleepiness, but because it will be lighter longer, this won’t happen until later in the evening.
This process, which will be more effective after the clocks go forward, creates a stable cycle of sleep and wakefulness associated with night and day, allowing for a deeper and more restful sleep.
Increased Overall Health
Those extra hours of daylight in the evening enable us to stay outside for longer taking walks, playing sports, or exercising outdoors - all things that help us stay fit. By staying busy in the evening, we are also less likely to reach for those comfort snacks to stave off the cold, dark winter. With better eating habits, higher energy levels, and more restful sleep, our physical and mental health are bound to massively improve.
More Vitamin D
With more daylight comes more sunlight which, in turn, leads to a surge in your vitamin D intake.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for increasing the absorption of calcium and phosphate in the body as well as boosting your immune system. So add healthy teeth, bones, and a natural resistance to diseases to the list of the wonderful health benefits of more sunlight.
How much vitamin D do you need?
Spending between 15 to 20 minutes outdoors in the sun twice a day daily is a sufficient amount of vitamin D for a healthy adult as long as you are not vitamin D deficient. So get yourself outside, and don’t forget the sunscreen!
A More Sustainable Environment
An extra hour of light later in the day means keeping the lights off for longer, resulting in a decrease in electricity and gas use in millions of homes - all together this will save so much energy, and keep more money in your pocket! A win-win. We can also rely more on solar energy rather than fossil fuels which are much more harmful to the environment, reducing pollution and, thereby, improving the environment as well as our own health.
So while you may have been dreading losing an hour, it’s clear that the health benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks (only one measly hour of sleep!) of the clocks going forward.
It’s time to enjoy the longer, sunnier, and healthier days ahead.