Stare at the sun?! He can’t be serious….
No! Please do not stare directly into the sun at noon on a sunny day. But, there are certain times looking towards the sun benefits not only your eyes, but your mood, sleep, and overall health. (Those are all pretty related)
The only times you should be looking at the sun or in the general direction of the sun are when it is very low on the horizon. Who doesn’t love a good sunrise and sunset?! The reason we enjoy looking at them so much likely has more to do with our health than just the fact that they are pretty.
Light and Circadian Rhythms
When our eyes take in the natural blue-yellow contrast that sunlight emits during its rise areas of the brain kick off the bodies natural circadian rhythms. Before humans had access to artificial light we were completely dependent on the sun. The natural cycle of the day set our bodies’ rhythms. Sunlight told our brains and bodies when to rest and digest and when to be fully awake. “Many systems are under circadian control, including sleep–wake behavior, hormone secretion, cellular function and gene expression.“
When these rhythms get off consequences can include depression, anxiety, digestion and metabolic issues, and even certain forms of cancer. Keeping these circadian rhythms consistent, which leads to great sleep, is essential for your health.
How to Sun Gaze
One of the best ways to reinforce these rhythms is by viewing natural sunlight in the morning when the sun is low on the horizon. Wake up around the time of sunrise and get outside for a 5-10 minutes. Viewing through a window is better than nothing, but you will get more benefits when nothing filters the light.
At the end of the day try to be outside as well. Seeing this particular light at the beginning and end of the day will trigger your body to kick off the cycles needed for a natural circadian rhythm.
Lastly, do not view light when you wouldn’t naturally see it i.e. in the middle of the night. This can throw all of your timing off. Between 10pm and 4am do you best to keep your room as dark as possible and give your mind and body the rest they need.