Fresh air impoverishes the doctor. –Danish Proverb
Based on studies being conducted by Dr. Paul Desan at the Psychiatric Consultant Services at Yale-New Haven Hospital, we believe that light affects our mood. Based on questionnaires distributed throughout the year, most people in non-equatorial latitudes experience lower energy, depressed mood, increased sleepiness, and greater appetite, in the winter months as compared to the summer. Some individuals experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (‘SAD’), a form of clinical depression, during the winter. Afflicted individuals often benefit dramatically from exposure to bright light in the early morning, and such light treatment may be much more effective than antidepressant medications. SAD is relatively common and it is unfortunate that light treatment is seldom used.(reference)
Even if you do not suffer from SAD, adequate light exposure – especially early morning light exposure – is important to your well-being in the winter months. The further from the equator you live, the more important such light exposure is for your mental health
In addition to its direct benefits, sunlight allows us to make Vitamin D. This vitamin/hormone helps support our physical health in many ways, and has been shown to have a beneficial effect on depression comparable to that of anti-depressant medications (Spedding 2014).
Practical Tips for Sunlight and Vitamin D
- Expose yourself to sufficient sunlight, especially during warmer seasons.
- If you work indoors or are inside most of the day, try to get outdoors occasionally.
- Discuss your Vitamin D levels with your doctor and ask if you need to start taking supplements.