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The effects of sunlight on mood: By Beverly Clensey, CNP
October 7, 2015

The time spent enjoying the sunlight will soon decrease.

 

This time of year, there is at least a two minute loss in sunlight every day.  On November first, Daylight Savings Time will end and clocks will “fall back” by one hour to increase daylight in the morning. 

 

During this time of the year, one may develop the “winter blues.”  There may be a reason for symptoms of difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, loss of interest and moodiness, which may include irritability, anxiety, or depression, and overeating.

 

Sunlight regulates three different chemicals in the body that affect our mood. Exposure to sunlight is a natural treatment.

 

The first chemical is serotonin.  Serotonin is one of the chemicals that makes us happy.  When sunlight is taken in by the eyes, the brain produces more serotonin. High levels of serotonin give one a feeling of well-being and wakefulness.

 

Sunlight effects melatonin levels as well.  Melatonin is the chemical that regulates one’s sleep.  The balance of serotonin and melatonin provides the 24 hour wake-sleep cycle or circadian rhythm. 

 

The third chemical is vitamin D.  Most people associate vitamin D with absorption of calcium for bone health.  Vitamin D has been found to help with mood as well.  When the skin is exposed to sunlight, the liver and kidneys are stimulated to produce vitamin D. In relationship to mood, vitamin D helps to maintain higher levels of serotonin.

 

Enjoy the hours of sunlight we have left this year and we at Madison Health Primary Care can help patients adopt healthy habits to combat the “winter blues.”

 

Beverly Clensey is a certified nurse practitioner at Madison Health Primary Care in West Jefferson and is currently accepting new patients.  To make an appointment, call 614-879-8141.

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