Why does sunshine make you feel so much better?

I know that the weather in the Northern Hemisphere this winter has been beyond weird.  Put it down to climate change if you want to, but one thing is for sure, when the Polar Vortex is in effect, or when the Jet stream insists on shifting and dumping huge amounts of rain on the British Isles, people’s moods are definitely lower.  We have, as a nation, been decidedly grumpy since Christmas.


At the moment, in England, the weather is gorgeous.  Sunshine, unseasonably warm (at least it is in Nottinghamshire, where I live) and I have noticed a real upswing in people’s moods.  There are more smiles.  There is more activity.  People’s facebook statuses are a less about how bad everyone is feeling and more about things to look forward to.  There is a lot of talk about spring, springing.  Is it because of the sunshine?


Well, yes, it might well be.  Sunshine helps the body to create endorphins, which are the body’s happy drug.  Also, sunshine makes vitamin D in the body and vitamin D helps to support the creation of serotonin.  Serotonin helps you feel awake and alert, energetic even.  Not only that, but after a winter of being huddled under raincoats, several layers and Wellington boots, it feels amazing to be able to get out in the sunshine in a t shirt and feel the sun on your back as you get the garden looking better.


Apparently it all goes back to our biological antecedence.  Most animals are sensitive to light.  We all have circadian rhythms which help to maintain sleep and wakefulness cycles.  It all comes down to a complex relationship between sunlight, serotonin and melatonin.  When the sun comes up and hits the optic nerve, serotonin is produced.  When the sun goes down and it gets darker, melatonin is produced.  How amazingly cool is that?!


Now we all now that too much sunshine is dangerous.  If you are going to be out in the sun for a long time, make sure you wear sun protection factor.  However, to maintain good levels of vitamin D you need to make sure you are getting at least 15 minutes per day of unprotected sun contact on the skin.  Today, that looks more than possible.

gardening fun

If you need me, I shall be in the garden.  Smiling!


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