|Frosted Winter by Kaye Bailey|
Like anyone in a far northern climate this is the time of year I crave sunlight and sun warmth. An increasing number of studies suggest this isn't just the winter blues or cabin fever. Research concludes that for overall health a daily dose of sunlight is essential. Starting the day with exposure to natural sunshine can go a long way to improving health and protecting against disease and illness.
Open the curtains first thing in the morning to bright the morning sunshine inside. Bright morning light is a powerful regulator of the biological clock cycle, according to the National Sleep Foundation. More importantly exposure to sunshine helps your body control the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melanin which can lead to groggy mornings. "When natural sunlight hits the skin it triggers the body's production of vitamin D. Vitamin D is also known as “the sunshine vitamin.” It is a crucial ingredient for overall health; protects against inflammation, lowers high blood pressure, helps muscles, improves brain function and may even protect against cancer."
Your body is meant to be in the sun, and exposure to sunlight during the day is crucial to your well-being. It is advised to get at least 10-15 minutes of sunlight daily.
Exposure to sunlight has a huge impact on depression, seasonal affective disorder and sleep quality. According to Forbes, “in 2012, 60 million Americans filled prescriptions for sleeping pills, up from 46 million in 2006 (as reported in The New York Times).
When sufficient natural sunlight is not available due to weather and climate conditions or when working night shifts it may be necessary to incorporate daily sunlight sessions with artificial light as a means to improve health. This alternative medicine is called Light Therapy.
“More than 80 percent of people with low energy, fatigue or the Winter Blues may expect to benefit from light therapy. Although it varies from person to person, most feel the effects of light therapy within two to four days.”– Norman Rosenthal, M.D.Light Therapy Pioneer
Our bodies take cues from the environment – especially from light. When our schedules are driven by man-made light, it may negatively affect our circadian system. Underexposure to natural light can result in winter blues, fatigue, sleeplessness, impaired concentration and mental focus. According to Rosenthal, energy lamps help the body re-calibrate and stabilize by cuing its natural energy enhancers and providing light to replace what’s missing during the winter months.
Check out this affordable Portable Light Therapy Energy Lamp: Just $39.95 on Amazon
Sunshine for Weight Loss
Adding a little sunshine to your life can even promote weight loss. Reasonable winter outdoor activities such as hiking, sledding, walking, snow shoveling/removal, skiing, snow shoeing and the like provide an opportunity to burn calories and achieve sensible amounts of sunlight exposure. You will be surprised to see what spending a little time outdoors can do for your health. Be sure to dress properly for weather conditions and cultivate awareness of rapidly changing weather to avoid being caught in blizzards and storms. Have fun and be safe!