Sun is good: mood lightening with light

Sun is good: mood lightening with light

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Sunshine: light creates a better mood

Everyone has probably seen that the mood improves when the sun shines. According to health experts, this effect has nothing to do with how strong and how long we expose our skin to sunlight.

A lot of sunshine in the past weeks

In the past days and weeks we have really been provided with enough sunshine. Although the long-lasting heat wave also affected many people's health, the sun's rays should have created a good mood for most of them. But why does sunlight actually lighten the mood? The hkk health insurance company clarifies this on its website.

Ill from too little light

According to the experts, there is evidence that staying in the sun regularly helps people with serious depression get through life better.

Findings from the Scandinavian countries show that it is not just about getting up and leaving your own four walls.

Because in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland around 20 percent suffer from so-called winter depression during the dark season, which experts call Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

The disease should not be confused with a real depression. Rather, it is a disorder that leads to temporary lack of motivation, fatigue and - atypical for real depression - extended sleep, cravings for sweets and weight gain.

According to the hkk, SAD is more common the further north you go. Because the days in winter are particularly short there.

As the clinical picture evaporates with the spring, it is obvious according to the health insurance that there is a connection with the sunlight.

Effects on the psyche

As the experts explain further, the light has an indirect effect on the human psyche - through the detour of our hormone balance.

In our eyes there are special receptors that are not needed at all to see and sometimes also work for the blind.

Above a certain light intensity, these receptors send impulses to the pineal gland, one of whose tasks is to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. If these impulses fail to appear, melatonin production is in full swing.

As a result, when there is insufficient light, we become tired and sleepy. The organism signals us that it is time to go to sleep.

The special thing about these impulses is that they do not appear completely when the light intensity falls below a certain level - just as if you would flip a switch.

Not only a certain brightness is required for the light intensity, but also the composition of the light plays an important role.

For example, daylight in the morning and at lunchtime has a significantly higher proportion of blue than in the evening - or as most artificial light sources.

We consciously hardly notice these color differences, since our brain automatically carries out a so-called white balance - just like most modern cameras. But the subconscious effects are significant.

If the required light intensity is not reached during the day to prevent the pineal gland from producing melatonin, we inevitably feel tired and lacking in energy. This can easily happen if you spend the whole day in closed rooms.

Formation of the feel-good hormone serotonin is stimulated

But if you go out into the sun, the pineal gland receives appropriate signals immediately.

The organ stops the production of melatonin and instead stimulates the production of the hormone serotonin, which is considered a feel-good hormone and brightens the mood.

So we don't just wake up, we also get in a good mood! In addition, the sleep-wake rhythm improves because the sunlight causes us to feel more alive during the day and actively shape the day accordingly.

This way, tiredness in the evening is more reliable. If the melatonin production was suppressed by the light for several hours, it increases significantly in the evening, which enables us to sleep quickly.

No sunbathing necessary

As the hkk writes, sunbathing is not necessary to use the psychologically beneficial effect of daylight.

Because the corresponding light receptors are not in the skin, but in the eyes. A walk in the open air is enough. And that also works if it is veiled by a light cloud cover.

Sunlight is also not absolutely necessary to lighten the mood. The corresponding light composition and intensity, which activates the receptors in the eyes, can also be generated with artificial light sources.

This is possible with so-called full-spectrum lamps, which are successfully used in the Nordic countries to prevent and treat winter depression.

In spring and summer, however, it makes sense to use daylight. Even a half-hour stay outside has a resounding effect on our hormone balance - and thus also on our psychological balance. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • hkk health insurance: Better mood through light, (accessed: 02.07.2019), hkk health insurance

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