My little sister often refers to herself as a lizard. If you ever saw her sunbathing, you would know why. She stretches out in such lazy, complete happiness that you can’t help but smile. She loves the daylight, and she isn’t the only one. A new study has found that daylight exposure has more of an impact on your mood than temperature, rain or even pollution. Though you’re likely familiar with this phenomenon as it relates to Seasonal Affective Disorder, researchers found it to hold true for the general clinical population as well.
Interestingly, the correlation wasn’t necessarily with sunlight. It was with daylight. Whether there was direct sun exposure or not, having a longer period of time between sunrise and sunset was associated with feelings of well-being. Shorter time periods between sunrise and sunset were associated with more emotional distress. As the writers point out, psychiatrists and social workers should expect more patents during the winter months than during summer months. This is because people tend to be more distressed as the days shorten.
Studies do reveal that the brain produces more of the happy-neurotransmitter serotonin during sunny days than less sunny days. Why the negative impact on peoples’ moods should be more associated with daylight hours than sunlight hours is a mystery.
It is worth noting that the data set used for this study was from clinical patients. As such, the findings relate to people with a history of seeing psychiatrists. Though more and more people who do not consider themselves mentally ill are seeing psychiatrists on a regular basis, this should not be mistaken for a study that concentrated on the general public. That study, though, should perhaps be next. If my sister is any sort of reliable measure, you don’t need to regularly see psychiatrists to have a love affair with daylight.