Our modern lifestyle doesn’t always give us time to slow down and appreciate a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Which is a shame because both offer a myriad of benefits for our bodies, minds and souls. Here’s how:
Resets Your Circadian Rhythms
Our bodies are intricately synchronized with the Earth's natural light-dark cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. Technology can be a wonderful thing — except when that technology disrupts this rhythm. When this master clock is out of whack, we don’t sleep well, which in turn sets us up for poor physical and mental health outcomes. Watching the sunrise and sunset can help regulate our internal body clocks, leading to improved sleep patterns and increased alertness during the day. Studies show that people exposed to more light in the morning fall asleep more quickly. While in the evening, watching the sunset tells our bodies to slow down and get ready for sleep.
Sunrise and sunset can have a significant impact on hormone regulation in the body. Melatonin, cortisol, ghrelin and leptin are all affected by natural light. Observing the sunrise can help regulate cortisol levels by synchronizing the body's cortisol production with the natural light-dark cycle. This can lead to better stress management and overall hormonal balance. Melatonin regulates our sleep cycle. Ghrelin and leptin regulate our appetite.
Inflammation damages healthy cells that can lead to the development of potentially disabling or life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer or Type-2 diabetes. Watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset creates a feeling of awe which a 2021 study shows is linked to lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Watching the sunrise and sunset can have a profound impact on our mood and emotional well-being. A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders (2013) revealed that individuals who regularly experienced natural light, such as that from sunrises and sunsets, exhibited lower levels of stress and reported improved mood and vitality compared to those who spent less time in natural light. Lack of serotonin is a contributing factor to depression, but sunrise tells your brain to produce serotonin. Watching the sunrise also tells your body to get moving which makes you more likely to exercise. More exercise equals more serotonin and dopamine, keeping your mood elevated throughout the day.
Gets You Outside
The best way to experience a beautiful sunrise or sunset is to go outside. Exposure to sunlight gives your skin an opportunity to stock up on Vitamin D which is good for your bones and your brain. According to a study published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology (2010), the body's natural production of vitamin D increases when exposed to sunlight during sunrise and sunset, promoting overall health and vitality.
Watching a sunrise and sunset encourages us to slow down and be present in the moment. It's an opportune time for introspection, reflection and setting intentions for the day ahead (sunrise) or contemplating the day that passed (sunset).
Some studies indicate that watching the sunrise can lead to weight loss. Waking up early gives people the time and energy to exercise. It also sets you up for better eating habits.
Appreciation for Life
Witnessing the beginning and end of each day can instill a sense of appreciation for life's cyclical nature. It reminds us that life is a series of moments, and each one holds its unique beauty.
So, the next time the sun rises or sets, take a moment to pause, breathe, and try to step outside to soak up all of the benefits the sun has to offer.
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