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3 Ways to Use Sunlight to Optimize Your Sleep and Productivity

3 Ways to Use Sunlight to Optimize Your Sleep and Productivity

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Alex Nekritin

CEO and Founder of Ultiself

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3 Ways to Use Sunlight to Optimize Your Sleep and Productivity

Table of contents

Make the sun your ally

Sun exposure can affect your mood health and productivity

There is no doubt that sunlight has a deep effect on both our bodies and our minds. People who live in the northern hemisphere and experience dark and cold winters every year know all too well! It feels like being in a sunny and warm place makes us joyful and energetic. Being in dark and cold places often leaves us feeling low in energy and depressed.

Construction worker

Psychologists confirm this common knowledge and have termed this phenomenon seasonal affective disorder [1]. Depression rates increase as fall starts to dawn and hours of sunlight decrease. Therefore, psychologists have started treating people with artificial sunlight, which actually works! [2]

But even if you don’t live in a place where you would need artificial sunlight, you can make the most of the sunlight you get by following these simple methods.

Here are 3 great ways you can use the sun to optimize your life

Morning Sun Exposure

Exposing yourself to sunlight triggers your body to produce vitamin D which does not come from food like other vitamins but which is produced in the skin through UV exposure.

Construction worker

Vitamin D is essential for maintaining optimal levels of serum calcium and phosphor. Therefore it is critical in most metabolic functions, bone formation, and neuromuscular transmission. Insufficient levels of vitamin D can lead to bone malformations in children and contribute to osteoporosis in adults [3].

As vitamin D is produced through exposure of the skin to UV photons, you have to increase the surface of the skin that gets into direct contact with sunlight.

Yes, naked it is ideal because this way you expose a maximum amount of skin surface to the healing rays of the sun!

It is actually also recommended not to use sunblock to further maximise vitamin D production. But beware! Do not go for tanning in the sun between 9.30am and 3.30pm to avoid sunburn and prevent skin cancer! And please consult with your doctor before doing this to make sure he/she is ok with it.

And if you live in a cold place, there is actually something you can do! Psychologists have started using artificial sunlight glasses to treat seasonal depression. But you don’t have to wait until you get depressed to benefit from artificial sunlight. If you live in a part of the world where sunlight can be scarce during certain periods of the year, you can give yourself a mood boost by using such glasses or other devices that imitate sunlight.

There are even alarm clocks that simulate a natural sunrise by emitting light rich in blue light. Blue light triggers our body to stop producing melatonin, the hormone that prepares us for sleep [4]. These alarm clocks can therefore help to make sure that we wake up fresh when we have to get up before sunrise.

Digital Sunset

But you don’t always want to expose yourself to sunlight or blue light. Especially at night, beware that computer, TV, and smartphone displays also emit blue light that block the natural production of melatonin. Therefore try to limit your time before displays within two hours before you want to sleep.

Construction worker

At UltiSelf, we recommend using digital sunset applications that smoothly decrease blue-light proportions in your display devices as night falls in your part of the world. Check it out in the habit directory and see how your sleep improves!

But sometimes you just have to finish some computer work before going to bed. For such situations, we recommend the use of blue light blocking glasses. They can help to improve your sleep by blocking out excessive blue light wavelets to assure optimal melatonin production [5]. Visit the Truedark website to get the blue light blocking glasses you need to improve your sleep.

Some people even swear on using such glasses during the daytime. Especially if you have to spend lots of time in front of displays for your work, these glasses can help prevent eye-strain and fatigue. Here again, check out blue light blocking in the habit directory and make sure to include this healthy habit in your daily routine.

Lastly, of course, it is not helpful at all to be exposed to light when you want to get a good night’s sleep. By making your bedroom as dark as possible you can achieve even better melatonin production and greatly improve your sleep and and the consolidation of new memories!

Exercise outside

Scientists have begun to investigate the benefits of outdoor sports [6]. They found out that outdoor sport is perceived as less effortful and that it can induce feelings of revitalization and positive engagement. Even physiologically, exposure to nature seems to lower systolic blood pressure and decrease noradrenaline levels related to stress.

Construction worker

It can even increase heart rate variability which indicates a healthy autonomic nervous system!

Try to combine all you know about the benefits of sunlight with your other healthy habits. It is a great idea for instance to time your outdoor workout so that you can get ideal sun exposure during the morning or late afternoon.

If the climate and your neighbors allow for it, you can go for a naked run in the morning sun ;-)

Conclusion

Don’t miss out on sunlight! Increase your vitamin D production to improve nerve conduction and bone formation and to prevent osteoporosis. Exercise in nature to maximise health benefits and enhance your mood and wake up by using artificial sunlight if you live in a place where sunlight is scarce.

But be intelligent about it! Don’t expose yourself to direct sunlight between 9.30am and 3.30pm to avoid sunburns and prevent skin cancer. Also limit your time in front of displays during night hours to ensure optimal melatonin production which will improve your sleep quality. As a world-class bio-hacker, use modern technology to adapt your digital devices to imitate the natural sunset and sunrise. Make sure to track your progress in UltiSelf to see how your health, productivity, and mood will improve by following these simple steps!

References

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  1. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)—Symptoms and causes. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2019, from Mayo Clinic website: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651
  2. Rastad, C., Wetterberg, L., & Martin, C. (2017). Patients’ Experience of Winter Depression and Light Room Treatment. Psychiatry Journal, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/6867957
  3. Mead, M. N. (2008). Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(4), A160–A167.
  4. [2] Boyce, P., & Kennaway, D. J. (1987). Effects of light on melatonin production. Biological Psychiatry, 22(4), 473–478. https://doi.org/10.1016/0006-3223(87)90169-7
  5. Lawrenson, J. G., Hull, C. C., & Downie, L. E. (2017). The effect of blue-light blocking spectacle lenses on visual performance, macular health and the sleep-wake cycle: A systematic review of the literature. Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics: The Journal of the British College of Ophthalmic Opticians (Optometrists), 37(6), 644–654. https://doi.org/10.1111/opo.12406
  6. Gladwell, V. F., Brown, D. K., Wood, C., Sandercock, G. R., & Barton, J. L. (2013). The great outdoors: How a green exercise environment can benefit all. Extreme Physiology & Medicine, 2, 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/2046-7648-2-3
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