How the Sun Makes us Happy

Most people agree that they feel better about themselves during the summer. During those days where there is plenty of sunlight, and we can be out there enjoying nature, lift our spirits. But there is more to it than just sitting around in the sun. There are actual chemical responses that our body goes through when we enjoy the sunshine.

Sunlight Boosts Serotonin

Serotonin is a chemical in everyone’s brains. This chemical helps to regulate all sorts of components of our body including sleep, memory, appetite, and mood. When the levels of serotonin drop, a person can begin to feel lethargic and not enjoying life as much. When those levels increase, they begin to feel happier and have a more positive outlook.

The way this works is quite remarkable. When you are out in the sun, the UV light is absorbed by your skin. This UV helps to produce Vitamin D which in turn increases serotonin production. But increased serotonin production isn’t the only thing that helps make us feel better (by the way, if you can’t get out into the sun, drink some milk. The US government mandates that milk have vitamin D added).

Bright light coming into your eyes helps to increase the serotonin activity. So if you don’t want to get out in the sun and risk skin cancer, you can still get the mood enhancing benefits of bright lights.

Skip the Drugs

There are a number of prescription drugs out there that help to fight off depression. While they may be necessary when your serotonin levels are really out of whack, it is best to find natural ways (like sunlight) to help fight off depression. Some of these drugs, like Zoloft, can actually have some very serious side effects (like causing birth defects if you take them while pregnant).

If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, depression, or overall just feel down. Try getting some bright sunlight for about 30 minutes per day. You’ll feel better in no time.