On a recent episode of the 9 Elements Podcast featuring functional nutritional therapy practitioner Cait Crowell, host Eric Hinman began to discuss the process of habit stacking, and how each year, he chose something new to focus on to expand his wellness routine.
“One year I focused on sleep, one year I focused on exercise and purposeful training, one year I focused on sauna and cold exposure, one year, I focused on nutrition. So it’s a long journey, and not a magic pill,” said Hinman.
“Focus one year on resetting your gut, get that back to where it’s supposed to be. Focus one year on hiring a personal trainer to understand anaerobic conditioning, strength training, aerobic conditioning, all these different energy systems that your body has,” he continued.
And then in the middle of Hinman’s explanation, he asked Cait about focusing on sleep, and why getting sunlight is important for resetting your body’s circadian clock. Your body actually responds to early morning sunlight as a signal to be awake, and helps you be more alert throughout the day, so getting early morning sunlight is important for optimizing your sleep cycle.
How Much Sunlight Do I Need Each Day?
According to Cait Crowell, it’s at least 20 minutes, in the early morning, without sunglasses.
Why Is Morning Sunlight Good for Us?
According to a 2008 study on the benefits of sunlight, “As diurnal creatures, we humans are programmed to be outdoors while the sun is shining and home in bed at night. This is why melatonin (the hormone associated with sleep) is produced during the dark hours and stops upon optic exposure to daylight. When people are exposed to sunlight or very bright artificial light in the morning, their nocturnal melatonin production occurs sooner, and they enter into sleep more easily at night.”
“The light we get from being outside on a summer day can be a thousand times brighter than we’re ever likely to experience indoors,” says melatonin researcher Russel J. Reiter of the University of Texas Health Science Center. “For this reason, it’s important that people who work indoors get outside periodically, and moreover that we all try to sleep in total darkness. This can have a major impact on melatonin rhythms and can result in improvements in mood, energy, and sleep quality.”
Can I Still Get Morning Sunlight on Cloudy Days?
If the day is overcast and cloudy, you can still get sunshine. Light from the sun that's filtered through clouds or rain can still have positive effects.
What Else Does Morning Sunlight Do for The Body?
Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain's release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. Additionally, you’ll give your body an added boost of Vitamin D (our bodies are the best producers of Vitamin D), and as discussed earlier, your brain’s circadian clock will thank you.
As for the habit stacking that Eric mentions, well that’s pretty helpful too!
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