Science in Action: Sunlight and Sleep (could it be? continued)

Yesterday I deliberately spent almost all day indoors. I didn’t change anything else. This morning I woke up feeling less refreshed than usual. Here are the last three days:

Day 1: Try to spend lots of time outdoors (in the shade). Result: Wake up feeling more refreshed than usual.

Day 2: Try to spend lots of time outdoors (in the shade). Result: Wake up feeling more refreshed than usual.

Day 3: Try to spend as little time outdoors as possible. Result: Wake up feeling less refreshed than usual.

My belief is increasing. Via Google I found this:

Person 1: During the warm months of the year, I swim …a lot! . . . The amount I sleep during swimming season can increase by 1-2 hours.

Person 2: Your probably sleeping longer due to all the extra calories and physical exerction you use by swimming.

Person 1: Nah, it’s the same physical exertion year round for me. I exercise year round. But in the warm months, my exercise takes me outside where I am exposed to sunlight instead of artificial indoor light. That’s how I know it’s the sunlight that helps me sleep better.

I also found this:

We have found that people who are outdoors more have fewer sleep problems.

From an interesting mini-book about the dangers of sleeping pills (apparently the new ones cause cancer). I haven’t yet found the study it refers to.

6 Replies to “Science in Action: Sunlight and Sleep (could it be? continued)”

  1. I’ve been informally experimenting with sunlight as a sleep aid for the past year, and I now have the suspicion that it helps me sleep better but unfortunately no hard data to share.

    Janet Raloff’s wonderful two-part article on lighting’s environmental and human impacts is what started me thinking about it last year. She cites some interesting research being done in this area.

    I’m glad you’re taking a hard look at it now! I’d be interested in participating in a group study if such a thing comes about.

  2. I am very grateful for the information concerning sleeping pills. This is completely new to me and a frightening revelation. I have used eszopiclone sporadically for a few years, although I tried to be careful and usually took ½ dose when I did use them. And really, my sleep was never really improved with them. Now they are dumped! You seem to keep saving my life!

  3. I sleep better, and feel better generally when I get a lot of fresh air; both when the air I’m sleeping in is fresh and when my apartment during the day has fresh air. When you are outside you are getting both more sunlight and more fresh air; this is a confound that would have to be dealt with.

    Can you get more sunlight without getting more fresh air and see if you still get the effect?

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