5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Morning Sunlight for Sleep-Wake Cycle

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi holds an academic position at Northumbria University. After completing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University (Boston, MA), she joined the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a post-doctoral fellow to research how sleep and circadian rhythmicity influence our cognitive functioning.

Read more
Last Updated On January 16th, 2024
5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Morning Sunlight for Sleep-Wake Cycle

Key Takeaways

  • Getting Sun for Good Health: Morning sunlight exposure plays a crucial role in regulating our sleep-wake cycle and maintaining a balanced circadian rhythm. This exposure helps us fall asleep faster at night and wake up feeling refreshed. In addition to improving sleep patterns, morning sunlight provides essential vitamin D, strengthens the immune system, reduces stress, and supports mental health.
  • Sunlight Sets Circadian Rhythms: Bright morning light has a profound impact on our circadian rhythms, influencing hormone production and sleep cycles. Exposure to sunlight in the morning helps reset the biological clock, ensuring synchronization with the natural day-night cycle. This synchronization supports improved sleep patterns and mood enhancement.
  • Optimize Your Bedroom: Creating a bedroom environment that supports exposure to morning sunlight is essential for better sleep quality. Ensuring that your bedroom receives natural light in the morning can help regulate your body’s internal clock and promote better sleep at night. Opening curtains, going for a walk, or using a dawn simulator alarm clock can simulate sunrise and aid circadian rhythm synchronization.

Do you struggle to fall asleep at night? Are you looking for a natural way to regulate your sleep patterns? Getting morning sunlight could be the answer.

Sunlight is more than just a source of Vitamin D; it has been found to positively affect our natural body clock, known as the circadian rhythm. This daily cycle regulates when we feel sleepy and alert, so regular exposure to sunlight can help our bodies identify when it’s time for bed.

Save $450 On Any Mattress

Plus free shipping

Get $450 OFF Mattresses

In recent years, studies Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source have been conducted that demonstrate the benefits of sun exposure in helping individuals get a better night’s rest. From improved sleep quality to reduced stress levels, there are many reasons why getting morning sunlight can help our overall well-being.

In this article, we will explore why getting morning sunlight can help you achieve better sleep at night.

Essential Benefits of Bright Morning Light

Morning sunlight exposure is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Getting a daily dose of bright light in the morning helps to kickstart our body’s sleep-wake cycle and keep our circadian rhythm in balance. Studies have shown Verified Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The United States’ health protection agency that defends against dangers to health and safety. View source that regular morning sunlight exposure can help us fall asleep more quickly at night and wake up feeling more refreshed.

Besides aiding our sleep patterns, morning sunlight also helps us get enough vitamin D which is important for keeping our immune system strong and maintaining good mental health. Moderate sun exposure also helps reduce stress levels, while too much can harm our skin.

“Apart from vision, light serves a critical non-visual function by regulating our physiology and behavior in myriad ways,” explains Dr. Nayantara Santhi. “In humans, the synchronization of our internal biological clock to the environmental day/night cycle is mediated by the non-visual effects of light.”

“A distinct class of eye cells called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) convey light information from the eye to the circadian clock, which uses the information to set timing in our body. Sleep, mood and alertness are some of the functions regulated by light. Thus daylight is critical for maintaining circadian rhythmicity and thereby the proper functioning of physiology and behaviour.”

Therefore, it is recommended that we all try to get some natural light in the morning whenever possible. This could be anything from going for a brief walk outside or just opening your curtains to let some light into your bedroom. Doing this will not only help us sleep better but also benefit us in many other ways as well.

Bright Light Sets Your Circadian Rhythms

What Is Circadian Rhythm?Sunlight has a significant impact on our bodies, influencing everything from hormone production to sleep cycles. In particular, it affects our biological clock, which are responsible for regulating our circadian rhythms. So in other words, the morning light is critical in setting and maintaining these rhythms.

The sun’s ultraviolet rays stimulate melanin production, the pigment that gives color to our skin cells. This increases the protection level against further damage from future exposure to ultraviolet radiation. The sun’s rays also have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin, helping to reduce redness, itchiness, and other signs of inflammation caused by various skin conditions.

Bright morning light exposure helps reset the circadian clock to synchronize with the natural day-night cycle. This is why getting direct sunlight when you wake up can benefit your sleep patterns. It’s important to note that the same amount of sunlight isn’t necessary for everyone; some people may be more sensitive to its effects than others.

Heals Skin Conditions

Sun exposure is a great way to benefit our skin’s health. Morning sunlight, specifically, can be a valuable source of light exposure and helps to protect our skin from potential damage. Not only does it provide us with vitamin D, but it can also help heal any skin conditions we may have.

In addition to sunlight, a nighttime skin routine is crucial for maintaining healthy skin. It involves cleansing to remove impurities, using moisturizers to hydrate and nourish the skin, applying targeted treatments for specific concerns, and getting enough sleep to support the skin’s natural repair processes.

Boosts Mood And Mental Health

Getting morning sunlight can be very beneficial for our mood and mental health. Natural sunlight helps us stay alert, promotes vitamin D production, and boosts serotonin levels. This increased level of serotonin has been proven to improve sleep quality at night.

In addition, the morning sun helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle by regulating melatonin production. When it gets dark, our body starts producing melatonin, which helps us sleep. In the morning, when it gets light, melatonin levels decrease, helping us wake up. If melatonin production is interfered with through blue light exposure through screens, you may have too much energy at night before bed.

Studies have found that even brief exposure Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source to morning sunlight can help people suffering from sleep disorders get better rest at night, allowing them to be more rested and thus elevate the mood and improve overall cognitive function.

Getting sun in the morning can be an easy way to improve our sleep quality and enhance our mood and mental health throughout the day. It’s important to remember that too much direct exposure can be harmful, so it is best to limit your time in direct sunlight during peak hours and ensure that you wear proper protection, like sunscreen or sunglasses while outdoors.

Supports Healthy Weight and Metabolism

Bright light, such as outdoor sun exposure, can have many health benefits. One of them is its ability to support healthy weight and metabolism. Light therapy is the most effective way to synchronize your body’s internal clock, vital for regulating hormones related to appetite and metabolism. Sunlight also helps with the production of Vitamin D, which can help regulate melatonin production at night – making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Research has shown that regular exposure to bright light in the morning or early afternoon, combined with Vitamin D supplementation, may positively affect your weight, metabolism, and overall well-being, which in turn can lead to a better quality of sleep throughout the night.

Improves Vitamin D Production

One of the key benefits of getting morning sunlight is that it helps to produce vitamin D. This is because exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun helps your body convert certain chemicals in the skin into a form of vitamin D. A regular morning routine including a few minutes of sunshine can increase your vitamin D levels and benefit your health.

It’s important to note that if you have low levels of vitamin D, it can lead to Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source fatigue, depression, and a weakened immune system. Therefore, adding more sunshine to your morning routine could help improve your overall health and well-being. Although food intake still plays a vital role in maintaining healthy vitamin D levels, exposure to UV light from the sun is essential for adequately producing this nutrient.

When compared with those Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source  whose weights fall within the range regarded as having a “normal” body mass index (BMI), those who are overweight or obese appear to have a greater likelihood of having low levels of vitamin D. As a result of this, there have been some who argue that low amounts of vitamin D may cause weight gain.

Therefore, if you want to get the most out of your day, it’s advised that you incorporate some sunlight into your morning routine. Not only will this help ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D, but it could also improve your sleep quality at night and provide other benefits such as improved mood and energy levels throughout the day.

Other Circadian Sleep-Wake Disorders

Circadian sleep-wake disorders disrupt the body’s internal clock, making it harder to fall asleep and wake up on time. These sleep disorders can seriously impact your physical and mental health, making it important to understand the causes and treatments.

A few reasons why getting morning sunlight can help you sleep better at night. Still, understanding other circadian sleep-wake disorders Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source is also crucial for those who struggle with their sleep cycle.

Environmental research has demonstrated that indoor light does not provide the same benefits as natural sunlight when it comes to regulating your internal clock and helping you fall asleep.

Many treatments are available for those who suffer from circadian sleep-wake disorders to help reset your internal clock. This includes lifestyle changes like avoiding electronics at night and getting exercise for better sleep during the day, or even therapy if the disorder’s underlying cause is psychological.

Understanding these treatments and the potential causes of your sleeping problems is important to improving your overall health and well-being.

How Can Your Bedroom Help You Get the Best Sleep?

The bedroom environment can have a significant impact on sleep patterns. If you’re looking to get better sleep, it’s essential to consider what changes you can make to the bedroom environment.

One way is to ensure your bedroom gets more light, particularly in the morning. While you can use artificial lights in your bedroom lighting, it’s important to not forget the sun.

Light helps produce serotonin which helps with mood. Light also helps reset the internal clock so that it is better adjusted and can help with things like jet lag. Currently, techniques such as blackout curtains and room-darkening shades can block out natural sunlight, making it difficult for your body to adjust its internal clock and may even cause insomnia.

To get better sleep, try opening up curtains during the day or using a dawn simulator alarm clock to replicate sunrise in your room, especially if it’s winter. This alarm clock will allow your body’s internal clock to adjust naturally, promoting better sleep at night.

If it’s summer, you can take advantage of the increased sunlight by placing mirrors around the room for a well-lit summer bedroom. Making small changes like these can help improve your overall quality of sleep.

Aside from promoting light during the day and darkness at night in your bedroom, there are other ways you can make sure that your bedroom is optimized for sleep:

What Other Steps Can Improve Sleep and Circadian Rhythm?

Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. One of the most effective ways to improve your circadian rhythm and sleep is by getting morning sunlight. Research suggests that going outside during the day may make you sleepy at night—so don’t forget to get some fresh air!

But you can take several other steps to help improve your sleep quality.

For instance, research by Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has shown that exposure to artificial light in the evening can disrupt the body’s natural rhythms and make it difficult to fall asleep earlier.

To avoid this, try to limit your use of electronics an hour or two before bedtime, to limit the blue light exposure that can keep you awake, and use dim lighting instead. Additionally, consider wearing sunglasses outdoors during sunny days so as not to damage your eyes while taking advantage of the sun’s benefits.

Another critical step in improving sleep quality is making sure that you have a healthy immune system. A robust immune system can reduce inflammation, which can help regulate body systems and lead to better rest at night.

Eating a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, getting regular exercise, and using sunscreen when outdoors are all necessary steps toward improving your immune health. By following these tips and regularly getting morning sunlight exposure, you can learn how to adjust your lifestyle habits for optimal sleep quality each night.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can morning sunlight help with my overall health?

Morning sunlight can improve your mood and alertness, which is part of why it’s a treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Exposure to daylight has an effect on serotonin, which is a precursor to the hormone melatonin.

Speaking of melatonin, sunlight affects the circadian rhythms that influence the production of melatonin. Light in the morning advances circadian rhythms, while light in the evening delays circadian rhythms. In other words, getting morning sunlight is a good way to wake up and maintain a healthy sleep schedule.

Should you wait to shower after being in the sun?

To increase the benefits of sun absorption you want to wear light clothing and not shower right away. Do not wear apparel that protects against UV rays. Your body is still producing vitamin D on the surface of your skin even after you’ve come in from the sun. With this in mind, you shouldn’t shower right away.

How much time should you spend in morning sunlight?

Those who get more morning light appear to have a lower body fat percentage overall. To make a difference, you need twenty to thirty minutes between eight in the morning and twelve in the afternoon, but the sooner you receive it, the better it tends to work.

Researchers have discovered that exposure to the sun’s rays can cause fat cells to shrink just below the surface of the skin.

Do I need to go outside for morning sunlight?

Every single human being should immediately after waking up and as quickly as possible head outside to expose themselves to at least 15 minutes of direct natural light. If it is already bright out, you can still benefit from as little as 5-10 minutes of sun. If it is overcast, you may need up to 30 minutes or more for optimal benefit.

Is morning sunlight through a window considered direct sunlight?

Indirect light is defined as light that travels through an opaque medium, such as a window, where the light rays become scattered and lose some of their potency. On the other hand, that is dependent on the window.

If your window faces south and there are no impediments such as tint, blinds or trees in its path, then the light entering through that window can be termed direct light.

What if I can’t get morning sunlight?

Some people may not be able to get morning sunlight due to their sleep schedule. An extreme example would be night shift workers, who may deal with shift work sleep disorder as a result of the common sleep cues they miss and needing to avoid morning sunlight after their shift ends.

If you can’t get morning sunlight, there are still ways to reap its benefits. Consider spending time outdoors during other daylight hours, opening curtains to let natural light in, or using light box therapy devices that simulate sunlight.


Sunlight is essential to our health and well-being. It helps us regulate our circadian rhythms, affecting our sleep-wake cycles. By getting 15-30 minutes of sunlight in the morning, we can set ourselves up for a better night’s sleep. Sunlight also has many other benefits, such as healing skin conditions, improving mood and mental health, and helping with healthy weight management.

To make the most of your exposure to morning sunlight, it is important to adjust your bedroom environment for optimal sleep. This may include using blackout curtains or shades during the day and avoiding blue light from electronics at night. Additionally, you can take other steps, such as maintaining a consistent bedtime routine and avoiding caffeine late in the day to improve your sleep quality.

The evidence is clear: getting enough morning sunlight can help you sleep better and improve your overall health and well-being. Taking small steps to optimize your environment and establish healthy habits can help ensure you get the restful sleep you need regularly.

About the author

Eric Ridenour is a health and wellness writer with a strong focus on sleep and nutrition. With a background in health science and psychology, Eric has a deep understanding of the connection between sleep and overall well-being. His expertise has been sought by various businesses and individuals, and his work has been featured in reputable publications such as Thrive Global, Drug Report, and Authority Magazine. Eric's commitment to promoting better sleep and comprehensive wellness is evident in his writing and consultations. He is a published author working on his second book.

View all posts

Discover the ultimate sleep system

Choose your mattress

Shop top-rated mattresses with proven sleep-boosting materials.

Get a pillow

We have the perfect pillow to pair with your mattress.

Browse Pillows

Pick out bedding

Bring out the best in your mattress with our soft and breathable bedding.

Browse Bedding