If you are looking for more energy in the morning or all day long, it’s time to ditch the coffee and get energized by the sun, specifically morning sunlight. When done consistently, not only will you begin to wake up without the use of an alarm clock, feel more energized and ready to tackle the day but you’ll also gain a whole bunch of other health benefits. Believe me, I’ve been doing this for the past three months and I cannot believe what a positive impact it has had on my life.
Light affects us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.” – Matt Blackburn
Almost every culture, tradition and religion has, at some point, had a ceremony, ritual or celebration of the sun.
Why would that be? Because the sun is the primary driver of life on Earth.
The Earth has been basking in sunlight for billions of years. It is how plants, animals, and humans have thrived and developed. And contrary to popular belief, we need sunlight to be healthy.
Humans are diurnal creates (meaning we are awake in the light and sleep in the dark) and we function optimally during the hours of daylight.
However, these days, we have a mismatch happening between how we evolved and thrived for hundreds of thousands of years and how we live our day-to-day lives. It’s no wonder you or someone you know is struggling with illness or disease. I was.
A Game Changer
Feeling rested and refreshed has been a constant struggle throughout my life. Ever since I can remember I have always been tired, especially in the morning. I could sleep for 10 hours a night and still not feel ready for the day ahead. Altering my diet helped get rid of the chronic fatigue but I was still struggling to wake up each morning and always had to rely on my alarm clock.
This summer, I decided to commit to getting outside each morning for 20 minutes, directly after waking. And guess what? It worked! I no longer need to lie in bed for 20 minutes before getting up, I wake up feeling refreshed and ready and I no longer need an alarm clock to wake me up each day! I’m waking up naturally at sunrise!
This small practice has had a profound impact on my life. I look forward to waking up each day. My energy levels have never been better and I feel good all. the. time.
Blocking Our Connection to Nature
We are blocking our connection to nature by living in man-made environments, spending most of our time inside, under artificial lighting, breathing recirculated air, eating fake food, and spending time in front of screens. We are just now realizing how this disconnection to nature is affecting our quality of lives and our health.
If you or someone you know is suffering from some form of dis-ease, causing symptoms like:
- being tired all the time
- getting sick often
- feeling depressed or down
- having trouble sleeping
- being constantly stressed
- gaining weight
- sore joints
And are looking for answers, there’s a pretty simple one to start with that will make a BIG difference – exposure to morning sunlight.
Our Hardwired Biological Rhythm
We all have a biological rhythm hardwired into us that governs many biological processes that are crucial for achieving optimal health or just waking up feeling good each day. This biological rhythm is called our circadian rhythm, also known as our sleep-wake cycle.
The term circadian rhythm is derived from the Latin words circa meaning “around” or “approximately” and diem meaning “day”, which translates into “approximately a day”. This makes sense because our circadian rhythm is influenced by the natural light cycles of the Earth, a 24-hour time period.
As you can guess, your circadian rhythm has a significant impact on your sleep and it also plays a role in many physiological functions such as:
- your energy levels
- how easily you fall asleep
- waking up naturally
- body temperature
- heart rate
- blood pressure
- hormone regulation
- body weight, etc.
It has a tremendous impact on how we feel each day.
If you aren’t feeling your best or relying on coffee to get you up and/or keep you going throughout the day, it’s time to realign your circadian rhythm.
The Power of Morning Sunlight
The most powerful external stimulus for synchronizing (entraining) your circadian rhythm close to a 24-hour cycle is exposure to the light of day and darkness at night (more on the darkness of night coming up in future articles).
One simple way to align your circadian rhythm is to get outside and into the early morning sunlight.
The Master Clock
We have a master clock in the brain that synchronizes us with the rhythms of nature.
Here’s how it works:
- through the retina in the eye, we are able to absorb rays from the sun and use this information to tell our bodies what time it is in the day
- this master clock (called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN for short) is located in the hypothalamus part of our brain and gets its cues from the light we are exposed to throughout the day
- we also have photoreceptors in the skin that also sends signals to the master clock
- the SCN also keeps all our other clocks in the body synchronized and working properly
Morning light is made up of UV-A and IR-A (infrared light that the human eye cannot see). Exposure to this spectrum of light in the morning “wakes up” the cells of your body and helps with energy production, dopamine production, and an overall sense of well-being.
Exposure to morning light also has a profound effect on how you sleep. You’ve certainly heard about the importance of sleep for your well-being, productivity, focus, brain health, etc. If you are needing a refresher course on how to get a good night’s sleep, check out our Restorative Sleep Guide.
Sunlight releases beta-endorphins which are endogenous opiates, making us feel good without the addictive quality of exogenous opiates.
This fact is a clear example that humans NEED (and are designed to get) unprotected sunlight.
The Melatonin Connection
You may not know it but there’s a connection to melatonin, a hormone that helps control our sleep-wake cycles and acts as a powerful antioxidant. One of the functions of melatonin is to help you relax and wind down at night, fall asleep and stay asleep. It is released in the evening, with the onset of darkness.
But, melatonin is much more than a sleep hormone, it is also a very powerful detoxifier.
Just a few years ago, the University of Virgina found lymphatic vessels in the brain, called glymphatics, thateach year drain 3 pounds of toxic chemicals and plaque as you sleep.
Without a good production and release of melatonin, our bodies are not able to clean house and detoxify while we sleep.
Many people put in good efforts to create a good sleep environment at night but what people are missing, is the significance of morning sunlight and the production of melatonin.
What most people don’t know is that melatonin is made by the exposure to the combination of IR-A and UV-A light and that this spectrum of light is found predominantly in morning sunlight. So, although we feel the effects of melatonin in the evening and throughout the night when it is released into our body, its production is made in the morning. Another link to our circadian rhythm and the wisdom of our bodies.
Healthy melatonin levels bring us:
- good bone health
- healthy breast tissue
- healthy brain and cognitive function
- weight loss
- blood sugar regulation
- balancing of hormones
Sunlight is the only form of light that provides your cells with the wood for your fire. – Dr. Jack Kruse
In Summary, exposure to morning sunlight first thing in the morning:
- Sets everything in motion, our metabolic timing and circadian rhythm. You can think of morning light as the battery, the electric charger for the body.
- It signals to the body that it is time to turn off the release of melatonin and begin the production of it, setting us up for a good nights sleep of rejuvenation and detoxification.
A Superpowered Morning Light Routine
If you’re looking to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to seize the day, here are two super-powered light routines to get your energy levels up and rockin’:
Number 1: For early risers and people who like to get the most bang for their buck.
- Set your alarm for sunrise.
- Grab a liter of water.
- Step outside barefoot and with as little clothing on as possible into the morning sunlight
- Do not wear sunglasses, glasses or contacts (as they filter out the light)
- Stand to face the sun and look towards the sun (not directly at it) – on rainy days and in the winter months, it’s still important to allow those morning rays to be absorbed by your eyes and skin even if there is no unadulterated sunshine – sunlight is full spectrum light as opposed to artificial lighting.
- Go for a 20-minute walk and allow your body to be basked in the beautiful morning light.
Number 2: For those who need a little more sleep (for now).
- Set your alarm and wake up 20 minutes earlier than usual
- Grab a liter of water
- Step outside in bare feet and with as little clothing on as possible into the morning sunlight
- Do not wear sunglasses, glasses or contacts (as they filter out the light)
- Find a patch of grass, sand, rocks, dirt, etc. to stand on and where sunlight is not obstructed by buildings, trees, etc.
- Turn your face towards the sun (on rainy days and in the winter months, it’s still important to allow those morning rays to be absorbed by your eyes and skin even if there is no sunshine – sunlight is full spectrum light as opposed to artificial lighting)
- Stay out for at least 5 minutes or for any amount of time you can. Even a few minutes will make a difference
Nature knows best. If we can reconnect with her and take our cues of lifestyle from the environment we live in, we will all be on a road to better health.
Give this a try for a few weeks. I guarantee that you’ll start noticing a difference in the quality of your sleep, your ability to wake up in the morning and your energy levels throughout the day. Let us know how it’s worked for you!