Light is Our Guide to Wellness

Isn't it ironic that when health professionals discuss healthy practices they speak of these practices and habits as if they function independently. For instance, it is very difficult to talk about sleep independently of nutrition, of exercise, of sunlight, and of mental health. It is very hard to talk about exercise without discussing nutrition, hydration, and sleep. And it is difficult to talk about supplementation without discussing lifestyle factors that affect the depletion of certain nutrients. Lifestyle health variables do not function independently, and can therefore, not be expected to correct themselves independently.

If we were to write a story about the healthiest person that lives in 2020 can you imagine how long that story would be? how many facets would be included? how difficult it would be for any one person to replicate that story? See, because our health is highly dependent on our genetics. Genes that are passed down from generations before us that are affected by the nature of the womb that we lived in during our fetal months, highly dependent on the early development years and the stimuli we received, and more importantly, on the habits that we create as we grow into adults. This is why looking at health in a whole body holistic perspective is the only way to make improvements. Taking a pill is going to keep you caught in the hamster wheel of the dysfunction that got you into the doctor’s office in the first place, but it will not correct the dysfunctions of the entire system. However, there is a single source that we can consider when contriving healthy habits...

Let's begin at the beginning with the single most consistent historical fact of health and life that we are aware of: The Sun. We know as the earth spins the sun seems to rise and fall leaving us in light or in darkness. Our eyes and our skin are self-timed to that light and dark cycle. This light and dark cycle developed communal and cultural processes thousands of years ago that have transitioned through generations,until the industrial era, where we began trading our relationship with the sun for progress. Bring us current to the tech industry era where night and day run together in a seemingly endless cycle of production. Unfortunately, our bodies have not adapted to the requests we have externally placed and we are seeing a generation of heath issues that could be improved simply with sleep.

The cells of our bodies are triggered by light. Light is the key to the engine/systems to get the day started. When the sun is the highest in the sky, our cells are producing energy more quickly and our systems are running at full speed; if they are optimized. When we eat at the time when the sun is highest, our stomachs can digest our food and our cells can utilize the nutrients, meaning our food will provide the most energy mid-day. When the sun begins to set, the cells begin to slow down energy production and the stomach slows down peristalsis in preparation for the body to rest. This happens when the environment of the cells is optimized, meaning we are living in a healthy ecosystem. Post-industrial era and into the tech era has made this environmental optimization very difficult. As we are thankful for the technology that has extended lifelines and saved lives, that same technology and need for technology has challenged the complex system of the human body that was once reliant on the sun. With this boost in technology and need for technology, came more light and more perceived daylight. With an increase in perceived daylight, there are more hours worked, less hours of community, less hours of recovery, less hours of sleep and rest. This one environmental change has degraded our health substantially.

Light sustainably and historically still plays one of the greatest roles in our health. Why? Because we know that the only way, the single most important and propelling way to heal from illness and injury, is SLEEP. If our sleep cycle is highly dependent on the rise and fall of the sun and technology has now skewed our perspective of true light and true darkness, recovery and sleep has become far more difficult to achieve. We've lost our ancestral ties to light and dark, to sunrise and sunset, to rest and recover versus activity and action. The process by which sunlight affects our bodies is as black and white as night and day itself. If we simply relate our health to the sun, we can heal our bodies faster and increase our general immunity to disease.

Here are some tips and tricks to improve health using the sun:

  1. Expose skin and eyes to early morning sunlight and sunset

  2. Graded exposure to skin in mid-day sunlight

  3. Eat greatest amount of calories during sun’s highest points in sky - between 10:00 -3:00 pm

  4. Exercise during sun’s highest points in sky

  5. Utilize red/orange light and blue light blockers inside after sunset

  6. Close down technology 90 minutes before bed

Now get outside, breathe in the oxygen, and move your body!

Endocr Rev. 2016 Dec; 37(6): 584–608. Published online 2016 Oct 20. doi: 10.1210/er.2016-1083

PMCID: PMC5142605 EMSID: EMS70349 PMID: 27763782

Circadian Rhythm and Sleep Disruption: Causes, Metabolic Consequences, and Countermeasures