Do you feel yourself craving sunlight during the winter? With shorter days and longer nights, it’s common if you work indoors to hardly see the sun during the day, perhaps even less than an hour. We’ve been so excited for Daylight Savings to kick in today, giving us a bit more time at night to enjoy the bright, shining outdoor light that we crave.
But what’s the science behind this necessity? There must be an inherent reason why we get so excited for the hours to shift and more sunlight to present itself. Our curiosity got the best of us, and we set out to figure it out.
Turns out, there’s some interesting biology behind our need for light, and it has to do with the amount of melatonin and serotonin our body secretes in response to sunlight. Melatonin—the hormone that controls sleep—decreases when the sun rises in the morning, allowing us to wake up gradually. At the same time, when sunlight hits our eyes, serotonin levels increase. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that controls wakefulness and, appropriately, happiness. [Source: How Stuff Works]
Essentially, this hormone and neurotransmitter act inversely throughout the day to bring us from sleepiness to alertness and back again. Because serotonin controls both wakefulness and happiness, the two work together to explain the sun’s positive effects.
As Daylight Savings starts today and the weather warms throughout the upcoming spring season, keep in mind your need for sunlight. It can truly put you in a better mood and keep you productive the whole day through! Exercising outdoors rather than at the gym, eating lunch on a park bench or going for a quick stroll to reset in the middle of the day can do wonders for your happiness… all because of the sun!