A day without sunshine, is...night
Winter is nearly over. So, it's time to get over the SAD, that is Seasonal Affective Disorder. You might not think it applies to you but have a think about how much sunlight you get in a day? That is without air-conditioning, or through a glass window pane. Well, what is SAD exactly? Seasonal Affective Disorder used to be called the winter blues, marked by feeling sad, demotivated, tired and sluggish and even depressed. Some of us may think its just because we're over the excitement of the New Year and the rest of the year seems like a long road to nowhere at this point. But it may run deeper than that. Here's the science:
Let's start at the beginning. When I say Serotonin, you think Anti-depressant, and you would be correct. Serotonin is actually mostly found in your gut, however through a bunch of fancy processes it finds its way to the Central Nervous System or brain. Here it plays a role in keeping you happy and your mood in check. Anti-depressants, as you know, assist in this function, but lets talk about this natural anti-depressant: the Sun! It is proven that the more sunlight you get the more natural Serotonin you produce, and hence you'll feel marvellous! What happens as we avoid the cold weather, we stay indoors and out of the sunshine. In some countries the sunshine lessens to an extent that they cannot get enough sunshine throughout winter and they will be even more affected by the SADS. Luckily in Australia we have an abundance of sunshine, if we take a moment to spend some time in it, we can completely reverse the grumpy, and its science!
Sunlight through some more fancy photosynthetic type processes also produced Vitamin D. Which in turn helps to produce and absorb Calcium, which is what gives our bones its hard structure. It is seriously a bit like photosynthesis - UV rays directly onto the skin stimulates the production of vitamin D and hence Calcium. The production and absorption of Calcium in the body prevents degenerative diseases like Osteoporosis. So sunlight is integral to bone-health. I'll add on here, that if you're out in the sunshine and throw a ball, go for a brisk walk, play some volleyball or tennis, you're essentially giving your bones a double dose of goodness as we all know that exercise keeps those joints well lubed, your muscles strong and increasing bone density.
Now that you're happy and active and have some strong bones lets talk about your Circadian Rhythm. It's not a new Pilates move, but the internal clock your body follows to tell you when to sleep and when to be awake (you can learn more about your sleep patterns at Dr. Busy Lizzy talk coming up in September, click here for more info). Sunlight has a lasting impact on your day. Sunlight in the morning, helps to turn off Melatonin in your brain, this fancy gadget it what makes you feel sleepy in the evening. You may have taken some to assist with Jet-lag at some point and if not, give it a go. Getting some sun in the morning, will hopefully replace that third coffee of the morning. Catching some rays in the afternoon, will reinvigorate you through the late afternoon slump. Later, you body has a reference for the light, so when the sun starts to go down, you'll know its time to wind down. You'll have a better and more solid nights sleep as a result.
So get out there, get some sun and fresh air. It doesn't have to be for 30 mins in one go. Break it up and give yourself an excuse to get out of the office for 10 mins. Eat outside with the dogs (we all love dogs). Go for a walk, even along Pitt Street for some new shoes :). Get moving! Get some colour in your cheeks but don't forget sunblock. Ands start being the sunshine in everyones day.
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