Sunshine is the Best Medicine – Why does Sunshine Make Us Happy?

What’s great about living on the coastline of a little island south of the equator is that the sun shines right throughout the year, excepting a few rainy days. Even though I experience it daily, I am euphoric about it at the same frequency. In lieu of World Environment Day 2020, I’m looking to find an answer to my euphoria.

Why does sunshine make us happy?

Sunshine by word and imagery is used to describe upliftment, happiness, cheer and positivity.

I myself love driving in the morning sunshine, there’s always a sense of hope, motivation and adventure it brings for me. But why does sunshine make us feel this way?

Effects of light on the human circadian rhythm and mood.

Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioural changes that follow a daily cycle. The known effects of light on circadian rhythms are all, without exception, mediated by sight. Sunlight and darkness trigger the release of certain hormones in your brain. Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin; the happy chemical, which contributes to our wellbeing and happiness. When the body perceives sunlight, serotonin levels increase. And the more sunlight the human body is exposed to, the more serotonin the brain produces.

Vitamin D boosts Serotonin in our bodies.

We all know that sunshine helps our skin generate Vita D. Research has found that vitamin D hormone activates the gene that makes the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2), that converts the essential amino acid tryptophan, to serotonin in the brain. In another study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.

We have better colour vision in daylight and therefore are more influenced by it.

The colour detail in human sight at light levels are higher in the daytime. In humans and many other animals, photopic vision allows color perception and visual acuity. Sunlight stimulates your eyes photosensitive cells and helps the vision of the eye under well-lit conditions.

Sunlight is made up of a spectrum of colors; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet which all together makes up white. Blue, indigo and violet at the higher end of the spectrum are more likely to be scattered away, while the lower end of the spectrum red, orange and yellow are less easily scattered. Therefore, we’re familiar with sunlight being yellowish-orange. Color psychology is a well-known study of the brain’s perception of what it visualizes. The colours of orange and yellow are often perceived as and associated with:

Sunlight correlates with the outdoors; often being in open areas, breathing fresh air and being closer to nature.

According to national geographic “We are wired to be outside – Science is demonstrating what we intuitively know, nature makes us happy.” The goodness of being outdoors to the mind, body and soul are one of our core beliefs. Science too overwhelmingly supports that people who spend time outside are happier and healthier. Being outdoors is proven to reduce stress levels, boost creativity, lower blood pressure and fight against anxiety and depression. Overall it is known to boost our immune systems.

So, if you are feeling down, I advise you to not binge watch your favourite TV or Movie series, get outdoors and get some sun! or binge watch in the sun.. that would work too. But it does give some interesting questions to ponder about.Why don’t we hear doctors prescribing sunlight therapy more often? Though sunscreen protects our skin does it make us less happy than we can be?

In the process of my research, I’ve discovered that I’m a “Heliophile”😊 How about you?

And I came across some very insightful articles on the National Geographic. Check it out below:

We Are Wired To Be Outside – Science is demonstrating what we intuitively know: Nature makes us happy.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/02/nature-fix-brain-happy-florence-williams/

This Is Your Brain on Nature – When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favour.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/01/call-to-wild/

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References and Bibliography for Sunshine is the Best Medicine

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226110836.htm#:~:text=In%20this%20study%2C%20Dr.,to%20serotonin%20in%20the%20brain.

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/benefits-vitamin-d

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6751071/

https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/sun-happiness1.htm

https://www.colorpsychology.org/

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