Marla Ahlgrimm explains that the day and night cycle tells your brains when to release hormones. Specifically, sunlight triggers the production of serotonin. This is a brain chemical that’s associated with focus, calmness, and lightheartedness. When the sun goes down, the body begins to receive melatonin. Anyone who’s ever taken a supplement to help them settle in at night will recognize this is a potent sleep aid -- it’s also a natural hormone.
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, many people experience seasonal depression in the winter months. This is likely due to a decrease in sunlight. Fortunately, just as night turns into day, the sun sets on winter as spring returns, and sunlight ekes its way in by about an extra two minutes every day from December until June.
Light is used to treat certain types of depression. Known as phototherapy, patients utilize a lightbox either in their therapist’s office or at home. Like the natural sun, the light sequence in the lightbox tells the brain it’s time to slow down melatonin and increase serotonin production.
Marla Ahlgrimm’s best advice: Get out into the sun for at least 15 minutes every day. Wear sunscreen, and avoid burns whenever possible.