Hey Heart & Soil Tribe 👋
It’s the middle of January and the middle of winter…
Which means that for most of us right now, it’s hard to get that precious sunshine.
In fact for most of us, the sun is behaving a lot like a teenager.
It’s temperamental and not very interested in spending time with you.
But when it decides to come out from the clouds (or bedroom) it would be a very good idea to connect with it.
This is why winter sun is arguably more important than summer sun… because it’s a precious and scarce resource.
It’s easy to get sunlight in summer. The sun is in the sky all day, and we’re outside enjoying the weather anyway.
But it’s not so easy to get sun in winter. Because the days are short, and the weather isn’t so balmy.
Many of us drive to work in the dark…
Work all day in a building…
And then drive home again in the dark.
But the worst thing you can do is hibernate like a bear…
Because regular sunlight – even during winter, is as essential for health as meat and organs are.
“If you are not viewing the sun – even through cloud cover, for 2 to 10 minutes in the early part of the day when the sun is still low in the sky, and doing the same thing again in the evening, you are severely disrupting your sleep rhythms, your mood, your hormones, your metabolism.”
– Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., Huberman Lab Podcast Episode 24
3 reasons to get winter sun
#1 Winter sun will improve your sleep
If you’re not getting sunlight every day, then chances are your sleep sucks…
Because we need sunlight to set our circadian clock.
This is a hardwired clock in our brains set to a 24 hour cycle that governs our sleep/wake cycles.
In particular, getting early morning sun biologically bookmarks the sleep/wake cycles of the day, activating a cascade of hormonal processes…
And even if you wake up before sunrise (which is common in winter), still try to get 20-30 minutes of sunlight through your eyes when it eventually comes up.
Sorry, but if it’s through a window or with sunglasses, it doesn’t count…
Because UVB rays can’t penetrate glass 😟
#2 Winter sun will improve your mood
There’s a reason the winter blues are 900% more common in Alaska than Florida…
It’s because those long dark Alaskan winters mean less sunlight.
Which means less serotonin, less Vitamin D, and a messed up circadian rhythm.
But you don’t need to live in Alaska to suffer the effects.
Even down here in Texas, a lack of sunlight during winter can still put you in a funk.
And getting more winter sun could be the antidote because it boosts serotonin (aka the “feel good” hormone), the hormone many antidepressants act upon.
Sunlight is nature’s anti-depressant!
#3 Winter sun will boost your energy
Unlike the false promises in your favorite caffeinated beverage, the sun can boost your energy in a natural, healthy way that won’t leave you fighting the jitters.
Remember the sleep/wake cycle we mentioned? Well, the wake part of the cycle determines how much energy you have throughout the day…
In particular, early morning sunlight suppresses your melatonin (the sleep hormone) and boosts serotonin, all of which are essential for alertness and energy during the daytime.
And sunlight also gives you Vitamin D and nitric oxide, both necessary for energy too!
How to get more winter sun
If you’re serious about radical health then you will already be regularly exercising…
So why not kill two birds with one stone and start exercising outdoors?
Most cities have an outdoor gym, and if you have a home gym, just bring it outside.
Other options include rucking, or sprints/walking in your nearest park.
Adapt your workday
If you’re one of the lucky people who can now work from home (at least in part), or work to a more flexible schedule, brilliant!
Because that means you can adapt your work day to get outside while the sun is out…
Perhaps work a little more in the evening to free up time during the day, or start later in the morning to catch the sunrise.
And if you don’t currently have flexibility with your job, but you think it’s an option, then we encourage you to ask your employer about it.
Your productivity will likely improve too!
What if you work in a factory/school/hospital or even on night shifts?
There’s a community of night shift workers on Reddit who talk about what it’s like to work all night and get no sun… it’s eye-opening.
Many of them have “night shift blues” and struggle with isolation and loneliness…
And cracking open beers at 9 am is a recurring theme.
Here’s what they say helped them conquer night shifts:
- Tanning booths
- Sun lamps
- Vitamin D supplements
- Walks in the sun before/after their shift
And if you have a job that requires you to be indoors during the day, for example in a hospital, school or factory…
Or if you work night shifts, we suggest you try these things too.
And while it’s not always possible or practical to change jobs…
If your job is hindering your health, it’s worth being on the lookout for a new job that will support your health instead.
Because your health is the most valuable thing you have.
We hope you found the information in this week’s newsletter valuable… Now don’t forget to get outside for some sunlight!
The Heart & Soil Team
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