Good Morning Sunshine: Light Exposure and Morning Routine

Exposure to natural sunlight plays an important role in getting optimal sleep at night. Waking up and getting natural sun exposure is one of the best and more natural ways to regulate your circadian rhythm -your body’s twenty-four hour sleep/wake cycle. Sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight is known to increase the brain’s release of the happy hormone, serotonin. 

Here in Australia, we are pretty lucky to live in an abundance of sunshine for a good majority of the year. But as we head into winter, the days get shorter, the mornings get colder and nights tend to be extra chilly. Though many parts of Australia have pretty mild winters (they don’t call Queensland the sunshine state for nothing), there are parts of our country, such as Canberra, Melbourne and Tasmania, that experience much darker and colder winter months. But no matter where you live, the chances are the colder months might mean you need to make some adjustments to your morning routine.

Double Your Morning Sunlight

Typically we recommend spending 15 minutes outside in the sunshine every morning before starting your day. It’s a simple and effective way to start your morning routine. The natural sunlight can increase your cortisol levels, giving you a surge of energy for the day ahead. But what happens when you wake up to dark grey skies with the sunshine nowhere to be seen? Well, the answer is simple…spend longer outside. If you’re aiming for 15 minutes each morning outside on a sunny day, then on a darker day, aim for 30 minutes. Whether it’s taking the dog for a walk, enjoying your morning tea on the grass or playing with the kids, the more sunlight you get in the morning, even during winter, the better your day and night will become.

Kick Start Your Morning, Without the Sunlight

In summer, the sun is up early, which means it’s really easy to get that first morning light as soon as you open your eyes, but in winter, it’s not uncommon to be waking up before the sun. Of course, this means you’ll get to watch the beauty of the sunrise, but it also means you won’t be able to get a good dose of sunlight before you start your day. So what do you do? Take advantage of artificial light. If you’re up before the sun in winter months, it’s best you fill your room with bright artificial light as soon as you wake. The same way that we suggest removing artificial light a few hours before bed, utilising it to your advantage in the mornings will help set your day up for success.

Not All Artificial Light is Made Equal

Did you know that not all light bulbs are the same? Sure, they do the same thing…provide us with light, but there is now a large range of different bulbs available for different purposes. White light, warm light, LED bulbs….just to name a few, have all been created to help you find your perfect lighting solution. Lower watt, white light bulbs are said to be the closest to natural lighting. Some bulbs also have a “daylight bulb” option, which has been specifically designed to create natural light. This style of artificial lighting is often softer and less harsh, meaning it will help you get that morning serotonin boost that you’re after!

Continue Your Morning Routine

Though exposure to light is an important factor into a good morning routine, it isn’t the only way to ensure you start your morning the right way. Creating Your Ultimate Morning Routine has a lot of benefits to your overall health, wellbeing and sleep habits. A morning routine doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult, just a few simple rituals that could include:

  • Exercise or stretching
  • Mindfulness or meditation
  • Journalling 
  • Cooking a healthy and nutritious breakfast
  • Drinking a glass of water

Morning sunlight, no matter when you’re able to be exposed to it, will ensure your body switches off the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. This will help you get energised and ready for the day. When it comes to the evening, choosing to do the opposite and reducing light as a part of your night time routine, will help stimulate melatonin production to get you feeling tired and ready for sleep! When it comes to sleep, light plays such an important role from morning to night.