The benefits of morning light | The Heart of England Forest

 

A walk in the Forest at any time will boost your mood, but you can reap the benefits of morning light by setting aside 10 – 20 minutes at the start of your day.

Early morning in the Forest

Why is morning light important?

Morning light is especially important in regulating our circadian rhythms, our natural body-clock. Our circadian rhythm tells our body when to sleep, when to wake, when to eat and when to release different mood-altering hormones.

Our modern lifestyles can throw these rhythms out of sync, but just a 20 minute walk in the forest in the morning light can help to reset our systems, encourage deep and nourishing sleep and improve your mood all day.

The benefits of morning light

Starting our day by spending a few minutes in natural light brings many benefits, including:

  • Better sleep.
  • Boosted immune system: Our bodies need natural sunlight in order to make Vitamin D. Vitamin D is central to making sure our immune system is running at it’s best. In winter months a supplement can be taken if you cannot get enough natural light outdoors.
  • Lower stress.
  • Regulated appetite: When our circadian rhythms are out of sync, our body tells us to eat at times that are not best for us and often too much. Using screens late at night and absorbing the blue light given off by phones can damage our natural rhythms, but morning light works as a reset.
  • Boosted mood: Healthy levels of Vitamin D help to regulate our mood-altering hormones and will help to boost your mood throughout the rest of the day.

Ways to get your daily dose of morning light

A view through the trees in the morning light

Here are four easy ways to get your daily dose of morning light wherever you live:

  1. Walk in the forest: If you are lucky enough to live near the Heart of England Forest, why not take a morning stroll through the trees? Lay out your clothes the night before and put your shoes by the door – that way that pesky inner voice will not try and sabotage your efforts by persuading you not to go.
  2. A cuppa outdoors: If you have a garden, or even a step by your front door, you could make yourself a nice warming brew and drink it outdoors. Even better, you could leave your phone indoors and just lap up the world outside, uninterrupted.
  3. Pick up the paper: Do you get your newspaper delivered in the morning? Instead you could walk to the shop to pick it up, getting your morning dose of light as you go.
  4. Open the window: We all have access to nature, whether you live in the heart of the countryside or at the top of a block of flats in a city, just open the window and let that replenishing natural light and fresh air stream in. Do this before your check your phone or turn on the TV or radio and have 15 minutes just observing the world before you start your day.

Feel good in the Forest

Our series of forest therapy articles explores the different ways we can feel good when visiting the Forest. Read about mindfulness and birdsong and discover the benefits of forest bathing.

 

Further reading

  • Blume, Christine et al. “Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood.” Somnologie : Schlafforschung und Schlafmedizin = Somnology : sleep research and sleep medicine vol. 23,3 (2019): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6751071/
  • Panda, Satchin, The Circadian Code: Lose weight, supercharge your energy and sleep well every night, London, Vermillion, (2018)
  • Chatterjee, Rangan, The 4 Pillar Plan, London, Penguin Life (2017)
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