Don’t think that it’s just in your imagination that you’re starting to feel livelier and more energetic. Just as flowers and trees start to bud and show signs of life in spring, so do we, and there’s a solid scientific reason for it.
Humans are diurnal creatures. We naturally want to be active when it is light, and sleep when it is dark. Not only does spring bring more hours of daylight, it is warmer and we look for reasons to spend more time outside in it, rather than tucked away in cosy rooms avoiding the cold. Anecdotal evidence suggests people are more active and sociable in spring and summer – especially after the clocks go forward at the start of Summer Time. Rather than going to work and coming home in the dark it no longer feels like our day is over when we return, but that we still have an hour or two to enjoy the evening sunshine.
Sunlight triggers the release of a mood boosting hormone called serotonin which reduces stress and increases a sense of happiness. Conversely, the body’s natural production of melatonin (the hormone that regulates sleep) decreases with time spent in sunshine, making us feel more alert.
Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium which boosts bone density – something that is especially important as people age. Giving your skin moderate exposure to sunlight (five to fifteen minutes) is enough for most people to maintain healthy bones. Vitamin D is also essential for many functions including: supporting the immune system, promoting a healthy circulatory system, aiding digestive health, losing excess fat, maintaining optimal brain function, protecting against Alzheimer’s and brain aging, decreasing symptoms of asthma, and protecting against cancer.
The antiseptic properties of sunlight can also help ease the symptoms of eczema, acne, and psoriasis, as well as other skin conditions.
While sunlight is important for our health and wellbeing, too much of it carries a risk of it damaging skin cells and causing skin cancer. You can reduce the risk by protecting your skin from direct sunlight between 10am and 4pm, when the UV rays are at their strongest.
Make it your mission to enjoy the arrival of some spring sunlight. It could be as simple as sitting in the garden drinking a cup of tea, meeting up with a friend after work for a quick evening pint in a sun-kissed beer garden, taking the dog on a new sunshine filled walkies route, or visiting a one of the many Dundee parks in its early spring bloom.