What do lengthening daylight hours mean for your sleep?

BY Max Kirsten

15th Feb 2024 Wellbeing

2 min read

What do lengthening daylight hours mean for your sleep?
The lengthening of daylight hours, leading to lighter nights, can have several benefits for our sleep and overall wellbeing, as Max Kirsten, Resident Sleep Expert for Panda London explains

Regulation of circadian rhythm

Exposure to natural light during the day helps regulate our circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. When we are exposed to daylight, particularly in the morning, it signals to our bodies that it's time to be awake and alert.
"When we are exposed to daylight in the morning, it signals to our bodies to be awake and alert"
As the nights get lighter, it becomes easier for our bodies to synchronise with the natural day-night cycle, promoting better sleep patterns. This can lead to more consistent sleep schedules and improved overall sleep quality.

Improved mood and energy levels

Woman smiling in bed
Daylight exposure has been linked to improved mood and increased energy levels. As the nights get lighter, people tend to spend more time outdoors and engage in activities during daylight hours.
This exposure to natural light can boost mood and energy levels, making it easier to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle and feel more alert during the day.

Increased melatonin production

Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. Exposure to natural light during the day, especially in the morning, suppresses melatonin production, keeping us alert and awake. Conversely, as the day transitions into night and natural light diminishes, our bodies start to produce more melatonin, signalling that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
"A natural increase in melatonin production during lighter nights makes it easier to fall asleep"
Lighter nights can help facilitate this natural increase in melatonin production, making it easier for us to fall asleep and achieve better quality sleep.

Enhanced vitamin D production 

Sunlight coming thrutter shutters onto a wall next to a bed
Sunlight is a primary source of vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including sleep regulation. Adequate vitamin D levels have been associated with better sleep quality and overall wellbeing.
Lighter nights provide more opportunities for outdoor activities and sun exposure, which can contribute to optimal vitamin D levels and, consequently, better sleep.

Reduced Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) symptoms 

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that typically occurs during the fall and winter months when daylight hours are shorter. Light therapy, which involves exposure to artificial light that mimics natural sunlight, is a common treatment for SAD.
Lighter nights during the spring and summer months can help alleviate symptoms of SAD by providing more natural sunlight exposure, which can improve mood and overall mental health.
"Lighter nights can help alleviate symptoms of SAD, improving mood and mental health"
Overall, lighter nights can positively impact our sleep and daytime routines by helping regulate our circadian rhythm, promoting the production of sleep-promoting hormones like melatonin, boosting mood and energy levels, enhancing vitamin D production, and reducing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
However, it's essential to maintain a balanced approach to light exposure, ensuring adequate exposure during the day while minimising exposure to artificial light, particularly blue light, in the evening to promote optimal sleep quality.
Banner photo: Katrin Bolovtsova
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