Sunlight, Serotonin, Sleep
The circadian rhythm is how our brains tell us when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. Typically, the rise and fall of the sun dictates the circadian rhythm. But people with sleep disorders or mental health issues can fall into patterns in which falling asleep can become difficult. This is due to an imbalance in the circadian rhythm.
Sunlight helps the body produce serotonin; although considered a happy hormone, it’s also a precursor to the production of melatonin. Exposure to the sun naturally improves the sleep cycle, thus improving the quality and quantity of sleep.
If you absolutely can’t go outside, there are plenty of ways to bring natural light into the home, such as simply opening the curtains.
One of the reasons why people with mental health issues often struggle to get better is because of isolation. The brain craves pattern and stimulation, and staying in one place or one room dulls the mind. Going outside can expose you to plants, animals, and people. You don’t have to interact with anyone if you don’t want to, but allowing your mind to receive and process stimuli helps. You may not notice the difference the first few times, but after a while, you will.
If you’ve found the wherewithal to go outside, it’s a great time to practice mindfulness. This is another one of those practices that may sound silly and that may not feel like it’s working at first, but with time, you will notice improvement.
The sun increases the “happy hormone,” so take some time to sit in its gentle rays. Observe the life around you and try to see the good in it. These mindfulness tactics are more successful and create stronger mental bonds with increased levels of serotonin.
Natural light can improve your mental health, but the last thing you want to do is be upset with yourself if you don’t end up going outside one day. That’s okay. The best thing you can do is give yourself the room to make mistakes. The brain naturally craves stability, and when you do come back into balance, even if just for a moment, take a minute to enjoy the sun.