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5 Health Benefits of Natural Light and Sunlight

Date Sep 2023
Category health/lifestyle
Time reading 3 minutes
Woman on terrace, drinking coffee

93% of our lives are spent indoors. You've most likely heard this statistic from us a million times, but we can’t stress it enough! Because of this, we often overlook the profound impact that natural light and sunlight can have on our well-being. Everything from enhancing our mood to fine-tuning our body’s master clock, the benefits of natural light are limitless. So, let’s dive into the science of it all and go through some of the benefits we can get from natural light and sunlight.


1. A Natural Mood Booster

Natural light acts as a potent mood enhancer, triggering the release of serotonin, or most commonly known as our "feel-good hormone." The sun's rays can have a transformative effect on our emotional well-being, helping alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. That’s one reason why so many people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in parts of the world where they don’t get as much sunlight during the day.

20-30 minutes of early morning sunlight (around 6-10 am) is especially essential. It will suppress melatonin and start your morning with alerting and mood boosting hormones1. This helps you stay more alert and happier during the day and have better sleep quality at night.


2. Improved Cognitive Function

Studies have shown that exposure to natural light can enhance brain function and improve focus and alertness. Sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin2, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in mood, emotions, appetite, and digestion. Studies also show sunlight can even help with learning3. So, whether you're studying for an important exam or aiming to excel at work, ample natural light in your workspace can give your brain the extra boost it needs.


3. Circadian Rhythm Balance

Our bodies operate on a natural master clock called the circadian rhythm. In fact, every cell in our body has its own clock that reacts directly from the master clock2. When we receive natural light, we’re regulating this clock, ensuring that every cell and process in our body functions properly and when it’s supposed to.

Exposure to bright light during the day helps synchronize our internal clocks leading to better sleep and contributing to overall health. If you’ve ever gone camping and notice you’re sleeping better, waking up more refreshed, and just overall feel good; it’s because the combination of natural sunlight and the blue sky is putting your circadian rhythm back in balance.



4. The Best Way to Get Vitamin D 

Sunlight is a potent source of vitamin D and it’s a crucial nutrient that supports bone health and your immune system. Vitamin D also helps create new hair follicles which promotes hair growth. Sufficient exposure to sunlight enables our bodies to absorb vitamin D, reducing the risk of health deficiencies. Just don’t forget to wear sunscreen when you’re out in the sun for long periods of time!


5. Glow on the Outside! 

Sunlight has also been known to help treat skin conditions like psoriasis, acne, jaundice, and eczema4. The UV radiation shuts down the immune system cells in the skin that are caused by overreaction of the immune system. So, a little gradual sunbathing won’t hurt, but again, limit long direct exposure to the sun and always wear sunscreen.

The benefits of natural light and sunlight extend far beyond aesthetics. From influencing our mood and cognitive function to regulating our sleep patterns, the sun offers so many health benefits we don’t always recognize. Don’t forget to go outside a couple of times a day to take in the sun’s rays or let more natural light into your home so you can take advantage of all the health benefits it offers.



  1. Petrowski, K., Schmalbach, B., Niedling, M., Stalder, T. (2018).  The effects of post-awakening light exposure on the cortisol awakening response in healthy male individuals.  Psychoneuroendocrinology, Oct. 2019. (108), 28-34.
  2. Blume C, Garbazza C, Spitschan M. Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie (Berl). 2019 Sep;23(3):147-156. doi: 10.1007/s11818-019-00215-x. Epub 2019 Aug 20. PMID: 31534436; PMCID: PMC6751071.
  3. Fernandez DC, Fogerson PM, Lazzerini Ospri L, Thomsen MB, Layne RM, Severin D, Zhan J, Singer JH, Kirkwood A, Zhao H, Berson DM, Hattar S. Light Affects Mood and Learning through Distinct Retina-Brain Pathways. Cell. 2018 Sep 20;175(1):71-84.e18. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.08.004. Epub 2018 Aug 30. PMID: 30173913; PMCID: PMC6190605.

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