Does the sun make us happy?

With the colder months slowly creeping up on us, I’m sure we are all longing for those warm, sunny, summer days again. Along with cold wintery weather come rain and other forms of precipitation, which we connect to gloomy days. When the sun is shining and the air is warm, it always seems like a happier day with happier people. Could a warm, beautiful day have a direct relationship to our feelings or health? Or our minds just conditioned to believe sunny relates to happy and rain relates to gloomy?

There are many speculations on the issue of sunshine being good for us or making us happier people. As we’ve all probably been told sometime in our life “don’t forget to use sunscreen!” The sun is powerful and can cause incredible damage to our skin but how can it be that something so harmful can make us feel so good?

From the ultraviolet rays produced by the sun, we receive endorphins, often called “happy hormones”. These endorphins can help to relieve pain, boost energy and even create a sense of euphoria and pleasure. This correlation between sunlight and “happy hormones” could possibly mean causation in this situation. This is not controlled or manipulated but rather based on people’s reactions towards the sun. People who are exposed to the sunlight more could be found to have more energy and euphoric, pleasurable traits. But, it is possible that other variables attribute to these endorphins. These endorphins also give us a similar feeling after engaging in sexual intercourse and an extensive workout, so it is possible that engaging in one of these activities and then proceeding into the sunlight will increase those endorphins from the sun and ideally make us feel better.

To further the topic of endorphins and sunlight, a recent study was conducted in a local tanning salon by researchers at Wake Forest University. Researchers were interested in finding out what made regular tanning salon customers choose the tanning beds that they did. They conducted an experiment where customers only had 2 tanning bed choices for their session. The tanning beds were the exact same except one gave off UV light power and the other did not. In the study, customers were asked to use each one of the beds once a week and on their third session, they could pick between the 2 based on which they liked best. As a result, approximately 95% of tanners chose the bed with the UV rays because it “made them feel better”. In general, the experiment might not have had the best design. While the experiment was not double blind and customers knew one had UV rays and the other did not, some could have biased to the fact that the UV rays may make their skin darker, ultimately increasing their happiness.

Whether it is proven or not, there are many benefits to getting some sun and fresh, warm air. Take advantage of the beautiful days as you will soon be wishing they didn’t pass by so quickly!





7 thoughts on “Does the sun make us happy?

  1. Nick Jacoubs

    This blog really got me thinking about the sun and it’s effect upon how I feel and act. In general, I’ve noticed I’m more productive and active when the sun is out. Inversely, I find myself far less productive when it is dark and gloomy out. After doing some research, I’ve found that when it gets dark, the body releases a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin signals the body that it is time to sleep and prepares you by getting drowsy. This could explain why I feel lethargic when it’s lousy outside. On the other hand, to further your point, the body actually responds to light by energizing itself. When the sun is out, the body releases the hormone cortisol, which wakes the body up and gets it ready for the day.

    Works Cited:
    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “What Makes You Sleep?.” NHLBI, NIH. N.p., 22 Feb. 2012. Web. 12 Oct. 2014. .

  2. Kirya Ades-Aron

    The sun definitely makes people happier, it’s not just a speculation! I researched it because I genuinely feel happier in the summer and I wasn’t sure if it was because I had no stress of school or if the natural sunlight really can change peoples moods, and it turns out it’s both! Of course when there’s no stress and no one telling you what to do your mood will be better but the sun really does have something to do with it because otherwise people wouldn’t have winter depression or something called “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” This disorder happens to people that live in very gloomy areas and don’t see the sun for months at a time. For example, in Syracuse NY, the sun doesn’t come out for almost half of the year and people become miserable.

  3. Danielle Parisi

    Although some may think there is a science behind feeling better in the sun, I think that it is more of a mental thing. People love summer because theres no school, less stress and its an all around more fun time. People are out and about doing things and having fun. I know personally that during the winter even if theres an event thats going to be the greatest thing ever if I need to sit in the cold, I rather stay in bed warm. People are more willing to leave their houses and be active when its a comfortable temperature. People do not want to be wet or cold because its uncomfortable. In my opinion bad weather affects a persons mindset because of practicality and function not because the UV rays are making them happy.

  4. Colin Patrick Mcknight

    This blog was interesting to me for the fact that I personally feel a lot better after being in the sun, especially, if I have not been in it for a while for whatever reason. In the middle of winter towards the end I start to feel very odd and my doctor thinks it is because I have SAD ( Seasonal Affective Disorder). Which personally I feel like is directly related to lack of sun exposure. Everyone to a degree I feel like would experience some form of SAD due to lack of sun exposure.

  5. Alyssa Marie Gregory

    After reviewing your blog I believe that the weather does have a huge effect on your moods. As mentioned in a previous blog my mind went straight to a disorder I learned in psychology called Seasonal Affective Disorder when the weather and gloominess around you affects your mood. I mean when its raining to you really want to go out side and have fun with friends? Or would you rather stay inside and stay in bed all day drinking hot tea? When its beautiful outside and the sun is shinning bright we would want to go outside and enjoy the weather rather than stay inside alone. I personally believe that peoples mood depend on their personalities and their outlook on life. If a person is genuinely over all a happy person, something as small as weather could never bring their mood down. If a person is diagnosed with depression then I think it is safe to say that whether it is raining or sunny outside they will still have that same sad mood with them. This link suggest that weather has no effect on our moods….

  6. Olivia Yvette Noble

    I really enjoyed this topic. For me personally I do feel a lot better in the sun rather than in the cold because I kinda just don’t like the cold. I can say that I know people who actually feel better when it is colder outside. I think this can depend on a persons perception of the seasons. If a person likes winter better they will feel better during then, and the same with summer. There can even be those people who are even happier in the rain. This post did give good information that I did not know before. Great post!

  7. Anne Curry Heffernan

    I wonder if this is related to seasonal depression, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Those who are diagnosed with SAD tend to feel the symptoms of depression more when there is less light. This means that during the winter when it is more cloudy, cold, and just gloomy out in general is when SAD hits the hardest. While during the summer when the sun is a lot stronger and brighter the people diagnosed do not feel the affects of SAD as much. I bet the two are linked, as you said the UV rays stimulate the “happy hormone” and UV rays are stronger in the summer.

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