December’s topic is “where’s my energy?” because during this month we see an uptick in people coming in with complaints of fatigue and exhaustion. The causes of fatigue are as myriad as the number of people who experience it. Today, we’re talking about morning sunlight exposure to help combat fatigue. Yes, a good night’s sleep starts with what you do when you wake up in the morning! 

As we awaken, our body temperatures rise slightly, which signals the hormone cortisol to increase. In the morning, we want this because it increases metabolism and the immune system and it enables us to move our bodies and think clearly. For great sleep at night, cortisol needs to peak in the morning! The very best way to achieve that cortisol peak is to do what we call “horizon gazing” within the first 30-60 minutes upon waking (if the sun is up, obviously.) Gazing at sunlight for 5-10 minutes in the morning is like throwing the “proper cortisol levels” switch in your brain and sets a timer for sleepiness later that night. Even on a cloudy day, sunlight is coming through, so don’t worry about that. Never stare directly at the sun or any light that hurts your eyes!

Endogenous melatonin can positively impact bone mass by turning on the production of osteoblasts, cells that make more or stronger bone in the body. Melatonin is a hormone that helps us feel sleepy at bedtime by affecting certain areas of the central nervous system. It can activate our immune system; it’s a potent antioxidant. The rise and fall of melatonin as well as the changes to its levels with the seasons are responsible for melatonin’s antioxidant effects. 

Best thing to do – get the proper amount of sunlight each day. When we get UVB light from the sun in our eyes, it activates neurons that tell the spleen to send out immune cells that scavenge for damaged cells and invaders. The sunlight exposure is helping optimize our immune function! For better cortisol levels, better immune function, and better overall energy, come out into the (morning) light!