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!