How sunlight makes us happier

By Teen Blogger: Hanna
Social Media Link: @Hanna_bnrd

If you felt tired, lacked motivation and had a strong will to stay in bed these past few months, rest assured you were not the only one. Science has concluded, since the time of Hippocrates, that seasons have an impact on our mood and overall health.

More recently, our sunlight dependency has been studied and identified as a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. SAD is type of depression, fluctuating with the seasons. Of course, not everyone is affected by this condition but SAD emphasizes just how very common lack of energy and loss of motivation is during the winter months.

Lethargy during the colder seasons appears to be linked to the amount of daylight we are exposed to. Indeed, in winter, the days shorten and many of us go to class or to work when the sun is not yet up and leave when it is already dark outside.

I know your first instinct when Spring arrived was to complain about the precious hour of sleep you lost as the clocks changed - but stop grumbling: the lost hour will be put to good use with one major positive perk: more sunlight! As the author, Hemingway, wrote in 1964, "When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest."

Sun has always been depicted as a source of joy and positivity. As it happens, this representation was rather accurate. American researchers at the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), recently found that natural light affects brain areas that regulate mood. Sunlight thus has a strong impact on both well-being and mental health. Levels of serotonin, a hormone associated the regulation of emotions and with happiness, increase when we are exposed to sunlight.

Bright rays also result in a release of melatonin, the neurotransmitter that helps to regulate your sleep. This in turn could lead to a lack of sleep and therefore a lack of energy (less melatonin production leading to a disturbed sleep cycle). To mitigate the effects of winter on your system, try to take some time for yourself, to enjoy the sun as much as possible, and importantly, to cut yourself some slack.

A risk, hypothesized by scientists, is that our modern way of life, depending more and more on artificial lights such as the ones on our phones or computers, would tend to keep people indoors even more, increasing the possibility of prolonged periods of SAD.

How to combat it? Simple steps like limiting screen time if possible, taking breaks, and going out for some fresh air all help. If it’s rainy, don’t get discouraged. Firstly, the mere presence of light for a longer part of the day is positively impacting your health. Secondly, rest-assured, fine weather will be coming your way soon.

Suggested Links:

7 Ways Spring Affects Your Mood | HuffPost UK Wellness (

How Spring Opens the Mind - The Atlantic