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The Sun, Melatonin and Your Health

You might have heard the phrase “early to bed early to rise.”  If you are like me, those probably sounded like words people abided by back in they day before the electric light blub.

How can it be relevant to our busy, anxiety filled, life today ripe with technology?

Turns out, it is even more relevant for health and successful ageing than ever before.

We are living longer and thanks to the help of modern medicine, infections or diseases that would have been our early demise 100 years ago are now something we most likely overcome.

We are living in a time when slow chronic diseases are surfacing as we move to what we hope will be productive, healthy older age.

Diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, chronic lung and immune conditions are prevalent in today’s day and age.

What if we could do simple, low cost lifestyle changes now to help age with good health, ease of movement and a sound mind?

It can boil down to a few key things that are simple, effective and low cost.

Here I will discuss one of these key players to a healthy aging process.

Part 1 Melatonin production and the sun

Research has shown that melatonin (the hormone that helps with sleep among other functions) is not only produced in the pineal gland but by the mitochondria in cells.  This can be facilitated by near infrared light or the red light of the early morning or sunset sun.

Melatonin can also be protective against a range of diseases including some cancers, Alzheimer’s,  type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases and Parkinson’s


Turns out there was wisdom in that age old saying.    

Try this:

Spend 15-30 minutes ( or at least 5) watching the sunrise and sunset.

  • You don’t have to look directly at the sun, but getting that red light into your eyes does a few things:

  • Helps produce your natural melatonin (the hormone that helps you sleep) to be released at night.  Also produces serotonin (the happy hormone) in the early morning which then turns into melatonin and night.

  • Helps to set your internal clocks to help your body function better during the day and at night.

  • And a host of other cellular functions I can discuss in a later blog.

If this interests you here are a few steps you can take:

  • Set the intension of getting to bed a little earlier if you’re a late night owl and getting up closer to the sunrise.

Ideally we should be winding down after the sun goes down and falling asleep by 10.  Our best rest comes between 10-12pm.  Like wise our best time of concentration and focus for tasks is between 10-12am.

  • To help with this, see if you can finish meals by the time the sun sets so your body can wind down into sleep mode (instead of spending it’s energy digesting food)

  • See if you can limit LED light exposure and computer/phone use after sundown.

  • Use blue light filters on your laptop and phone (some examples are Flux, Iris for PC, Night Shift for iphone, Twilight for Android phones)

  • Take a warm bath or do some gentle somatic movements or yoga around sunset or before bed.

  • Set the intention of seeing the sunrise. 

Side note: At first the thought of dragging myself out of bed to watch the sunrise sounded like torture, but the more you can set your body’s rhythms the more pleasurable and grounding it becomes.  It can take a little time to adjust but try it for a week or two consistently and see what you notice. 

Attuning ourselves with nature’s laws can help our bodies and mind.

If this post interests you, check out my other posts about other ways to sync up with nature for optimal health benefits.


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