Unusual Benefits of Sunlight


Research about sun exposure has been controversial, to say the least.


Some say it is dangerous, others say it’s vital to your health.


Some say morning sun is the best, others say noon time is the best.


Are you feeling just as confused as me? Or I am all alone here?


A Recently published study funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health says:


Getting some sunlight early in the morning is essential for a healthy body weight.  All other things being equal, e.g. diet, sleep, exercise, people getting more sunlight in the morning were able to maintain a healthier body weight.  People who were on a weight loss program were more successful if they got exposure to daylight in the first part of the day.  Even when it was cloudy outside there were still benefits to being exposed to daylight.


Spending 20 – 30 min per day outside:


 1)  Helps you to maintain your ideal weight by reducing the appetite.

2)  It also balances levels of the hormones leptin and ghrelin in sleep deprived people. 1


Levels of leptin are increased by light exposure. Leptin is a comfort & safety hormone, it ‘tells’ your brain that you are happy and comfortable and that there is no need for more food.  Levels of leptin are usually lower in people who are sleep deprived, that is why they eat more than people who are not sleep deprived.


Levels of ghrelin will be decreased by light exposure, ghrelin is a hormone that sends the hunger signal to your brain and is therefore called the ‘hunger hormone’.  Levels of ghrelin are usually higher in people who are sleep deprived. This is another reason why sleep deprived people eat more.


The Opposite is Also True


By exposing yourself to bright light at night you are likely to add a few extra pounds to your waistline.  Exposure to bright light, causes your body to stop production of melatonin, a vital hormone for your restful sleep which in turn is essential for your healthy body weight.


Your television, your computer screen and all of your electronic devises are similar to morning light and exposure to them at night disrupts your sleep cycle.


It is well known that rates of obesity and diabetes are higher in night time shift workers. 2, 3  Apparently, you don’t have to be a night time shift worker to disrupt your internal clock, just staying awake late at night is enough.


In addition, a variation in your schedule, such as staying out late some nights but not on others will also throw your body out of its normal circadian rhythm because you are being exposed to light hours longer one day than the next.  You are setting up the same type of negative patterns as if you were a shift worker.


The Vital Details


However, the earlier you get some sunlight or daylight the better, it will reset your circadian rhythm for the rest of the day.  The above mentioned study suggests that exposure to light from 8 am to 12 pm for 20 – 30 minutes is the best amount time.


In addition, you need to turn off your electronic devises and expose yourself to much softer light at least 1 hour before bedtime.


In a Nutshell


Exposure to sunlight or daylight is a key element to healthy weight and overall health


Exposure to daylight in the first part of the day is an important element to re-set our circadian rhythm for the rest of the day.  It is an important factor for weight control and our overall health.


Reducing your exposure to bright light at night, such as the television, computer and all electronic screens are equally important for your health and your optimal body weight.


Having said that,


I don’t think my children will be happy with me tonight when I tell them to turn off their electronic devices earlier than usual. :(


Over to you.  I would like to know what you think. Do you have any comments or suggestions, please post them below.





1 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2012/530726/

2 http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/06/health/night-shifts-diabetes-link/index.html?eref=rss_health&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_health+%28RSS%3A+Health%29

3 http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001141





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