Sleep & Daily Sunlight Exposure


Melatonin induces sleep and is produced in the pineal gland and in the retinas of your eyes when in darkness. Sunlight switches off production of melatonin in your retinas and makes you feel more awake.

It can also help to make your sleeping environment as dark as possible. Then, when you awake, immediately open the curtains to wake yourself. It is these well defined changes from sleep to awake and back to sleep that help to install good sleeping patterns.

Get out into the sun as much as possible during the day. If you cannot then invest in a bright light box. These are devices that create light of an intensity that compares to sunlight. They actively suppress melatonin secretion and are used in depression related to insufficient light exposure (SAD).

Higher levels of melatonin in the blood increases sleepiness. Melatonin release is controlled by the amount of sunlight in two ways.

  • i) Through the eyes. Signals from the retinas travel directly to the brain, specifically to the pineal gland that controls your body clock. This releases melatonin into the bloodstream.
  • ii) Through the skin by stimulating chemical production directly into the bloodstream.

The mistake many people make in the evening is to low intensity lamps on around their home. It certainly sets a mood, but also tricks your mind into thinking that it is getting dark and it is time to sleep.  Too early to go to sleep, people keep themselves awake, feeling drowsy and sending mixed messages to their brain. This can contribute to poor sleeping habits. I know it is not very eco friendly to say this but you really should have bright lights on at night.  200 watt lights so you stay alert until it really is time to sleep.



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