We all want to wake up and feel energized so that we are able to take the day on full force. Oftentimes though, we find ourselves hitting the snooze button over and over again, wishing that those few extra minutes would somehow make us feel the energy we are looking for. No matter the amount of times we hit snooze, we still aren’t waking up feeling rejuvenated and full of energy. Today I am going to tell you about the secret tip that is proven to help you improve your sleep.
You didn’t guess it… the secret is sunlight
What? That is usually the reaction I get when I work with people on improving their sleep and I mention sunlight. I am not telling you to sleep in sunlight, to buy artificial lights that mimic sunlight, or to get a certain amount of Vitamin D to improve your sleep. I am going to explain how to use sunlight to scientifically tap in to your circadian rhythm to promote higher quality sleep.
Our circadian rhythm can be defined as “a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours.” It is our internal clock! Our internal clock is naturally set by a combination of things: when we eat, when we exercise, when we went to sleep and woke up the day before. But more than anything, sunlight impacts our circadian rhythm.
How we can leverage sunlight to improve our sleep
The short version: within 30 minutes of waking up, go outside to get some sunlight (do not ever look directly at the sun, it can permanently damage your eyes. Simply being outside in sunlight is enough) on hitting your eyes. If you are able to, get some exposure to sunlight as the sun is setting as well.
The longer version:
Exposing ourselves to sunlight within the first 30 minutes of waking up for 2-3 minutes helps to set our circadian rhythm. This is as simple as walking outside for a couple of minutes or sitting on your front porch while you drink your morning coffee. This sunlight triggers our brain to let it know that it is the morning and we are getting started for the day. It is also beneficial to see sunlight as the sun is setting, as different wavelengths of sunlight are admitted which trigger our brain to let us know that it is time to start winding down for the day. If you are looking for this to be explained in depth scientifically, check out this podcast by Andrew Huberman where he explains this in great detail.
This has been scientifically proven to help improve the quality of your sleep in just two days. This will help for you to fall asleep easier and to go to bed earlier if that is your goal. There are all kinds of medicines, supplements, tips and tricks, and routines that are utilized to help you wake up feeling refreshed. Why not start with what is natural and biological to us? Sunlight!
Some important details
- Please do not stare at the sun or even look directly at the sun, this can cause permanent damage to your eyes. You get more than enough sunlight (measured in Lux) from simply being outside.
- Sunlight produces around 10,000 Lux depending on where you are on the planet. If you have the windows up in your car while you are driving, you may be hit with 1,000 Lux. “So if I need 2-3 minutes at 10,000 Lux, I can just do 20-30 minutes of sunlight at 1,000 Lux?”. Not exactly. For you to get the amount of sunlight necessary to set your circadian rhythm while you are behind a window, it will take 50-60 times longer than it would by just going outside to direct sunlight.
- Standing in your living room, you will only be receiving 50 Lux of light. A mere fraction of what the sun produces!