We all love sunshine and know it’s also a big boost for the body and mind. Ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunshine help our bodies produce vitamin D, which is needed for healthy bones and protection against diseases such as diabetes and even some cancers. Safe and sensible exposure to sunlight can also help lower blood pressure, prevent disease, and promote good mental health.
But what about being there to watch as the sun rises and sets again? When the sun says it’s first hello and last goodbye for yet another day. Surely there’s no reason to get up before everyone else, just to seek a little extra sunshine. Or is there?
The sun rises and sets every single day, no matter where you are. So, although there are probably hundreds of reasons (from screaming babies to getting ready for work) why you can’t be that early bird that catches the sunny worm. Or turn into a sunset seeker. There are plenty of reasons why you should. Read on to discover the benefits of watching the sun rise and set.
Firstly, check what time the sun is due to set and rise where you are. Every weather app will have this information. You should try to get into position before this time so that you can see the whole event. Sunrise is a magnificent time of day. It’s the awakening of the world – from animals and birds to trees and flowers. A sunrise means a new beginning. Watching daybreak can bring joy into your life, and it doesn’t cost a penny. You could be in your garden drinking coffee, out with your dogs in the park, looking out over the sea or at the top of a mountain. And sunsets can be equally as spectacular and just as rewarding.
We all have an internal body clock, known as our circadian rhythm, that controls and influences all bodily functions, and our circadian rhythm is controlled primarily by sunlight.
During the day, natural light tells our master clock to create alertness, which in turns keeps us awake. It’s not just tea and coffee. Then as the night draws in and the sun sets, our bodies produce melatonin, the ‘sleepy hormone,’ which helps us fall asleep and stay asleep.
These days, modern technology – lamps, lights and screens (like the one you’re looking at now!) wreak havoc on our sleeping patterns. But this can be combated by simply opening our eyes and curtains when the sun comes up and closing them when it goes down. What’s even better than this is physically watching the sunrise, this will send the perfect signal to our brains that it is time to start the day. And watching the sunset is a perfect form of mindfulness to set us up for a good night’s sleep.
We love getting outside, whatever the weather, but know it’s not easy for everyone. However, even if it’s only opening your front door for a few minutes or standing in your garden to watch the sunrise and sunset every day, you’ll soon notice the benefits.
We know that in the cold winter months, it can be easy to spend more than a whole day without leaving your home, especially if you work from home.
But heading outside to watch the sunrise and sunset will allow you to get some fresh air and release happy hormones like dopamine, just by being out in nature.
The simple exercise of watching the sun rise and set can give us a sense of routine. It’s a simple thing that people have been doing for thousands of years and can give your day a sense of organisation and calmness. Along with this it can also give your day a sense of purpose and a chance to start fresh.
A sunrise will help you at the start of a new day and the sunset will allow you to consciously end your day, no matter what day you’ve had – you can end it knowing that you have a new day ahead of you. The sun will rise again.
Heading outside to watch the sunrise and sunset will allow you to get some fresh air and release happy hormones like dopamine, just by being out in nature.
Just what is dopamine?
Dopamine is a chemical messenger in your brain that has many functions.
It rewards and motivates us along with regulating our movement.
When dopamine is released in large amounts, it creates feelings of pleasure and reward, which motivate you to repeat an exact behaviour.
Dopamine levels are typically well regulated within the nervous system, but there are some things you can do to naturally increase your levels, such as eating and sleeping well exercising, and (of course) watching the sun rise and set.
Watching the sun rise and set forces us to be present and grateful. In today’s modern world, making moments for yourself is important. Finding the time to be completely present, even if just for five minutes is vital.
Watching the sunrise or sunset can give you a better sense of gratitude for the earth and world around you. When you are caught up in the natural beauty of the Earth (like a sunrise or sunset), you can forget any distractions and feel higher levels of fulfilment and appreciation for what’s happening in front of you.
Watching something as beautiful as the sunrise and sunset will keep you in the present moment. It gives you a chance to be grateful and reflect, twice a day, which in turn will increase your happiness levels and release endorphins.
If you’re thinking, ‘I’m not waking up early to see the sunrise,’ you won’t be alone. For most people an extra few minutes in bed will beat an early start.
However, whether spiritual of scientific, watching the sun rise and set is something we can’t recommend enough. We all have full diaries and busy schedules, but with a little planning, the help of an alarm clock and maybe a cup of coffee, we can all make time to say, ‘good morning’ and ‘good night’ to the sun.
If you can’t do it every day, try it at weekends, or just once a week. You’ll soon feel the benefits.