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Daylight Hours Matter for Mood

Oct 30, 2023

Despite nearing the other end of clock adjustment, I read an article recently about the extra hour of sunlight from daylight savings can benefit your mental health

In addition to the psychological boost of ‘hooray, summer’s on its way’, sunlight hitting the back of the eye triggers the release of serotonin, our happy hormone.

It also helps regulate our circadian rhythms – our sleep/wake cycle. Getting exposure to daylight early in the day helps keep us in sync with the natural cycle of daytime/night-time and the production of melatonin – the chemical which peaks in the evening & tells us to wind down for bed.

I don’t need to tell you that getting a good night’s sleep is positive for mental health! If you are struggling with sleep, please, please don’t use the weekends to catch up. You’ll just confuse your system more. Good sleep hygiene includes keeping a regular bedtime routine all through the week.

We also know that sunshine is the most important source of vitamin D. I posted last week in the group about the physical health benefits of adequate vit D levels. However, vitamin D also affects our mental health. Individuals with optimal levels of vit D are less likely to feel low & anxious. This benefit is separate to the positive effects on mental health of simply being outdoors. Seeing people, doing more outdoor activities, being in nature are all associated with improved wellbeing. Having that extra hour of daylight means we are more likely go outdoors & spend longer there.

However, as the article was written by mental health practitioners, it, of course, only focussed on the mental health aspects of having an extra hour of daylight.

Looking at the body as a whole means that the picture is a little muddier. It is a known phenomenon that cardiac incidents spike the day after the clocks go forward. (There are also fewer the day after they go back). This pattern is due to the loss of an hour’s sleep & the resultant stress on the body. Of course, these incidents don’t happen in a vacuum & solely because of daylight saving. The risk is typically already elevated for those individuals.

Overall, however, this does bear out my approach to treat every client holistically & as a complete set of systems. We are all more than our hormones; more than our symptoms. Mental & physical health are intertwined.

If you’d like to know about resolving your anxiety whilst also addressing your gut symptoms, for example, reach out & let’s get a free call in the diary.

Sending love, health & happiness

Jo x

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