sunshine helping mood and mental health on picnic

Sunshine and Serotonin: The Neurological Benefits of Warm Weather on Mood and Mental Health

Do shorter days and longer hours of darkness through the winter seem to get you down? If so, you’re not alone. Many people look forward to the arrival of spring and summer and its promise of warmer temperatures, longer days, and abundant sunshine. While some enjoy the warm weather as a sign of the changing season, there are actually some genuine neurological benefits to spending time in the sun.

Foothills Neurology in Arizona takes a closer look at how warm weather and sunshine affect our mood and mental health.

The Benefits of Sunlight

One of the critical benefits of warm weather is increased exposure to sunlight, which triggers the body’s production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is closely linked to mood and mental health. In fact, low levels of serotonin have been linked to several mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

So, how exactly does sunlight trigger the production of serotonin? The answer lies in the body’s circadian rhythm, which is the internal clock that regulates various physiological processes, including sleep-wake cycles. Exposure to sunlight helps to regulate the circadian rhythm, which in turn helps to regulate the production of serotonin.

But that’s not all. Sunshine also triggers the production of vitamin D in the body, which is essential for a healthy immune system and strong bones. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to several health problems, including depression, mood disorders, and even certain types of cancer.

Take Advantage of the Neurological Benefits of Warm Weather

What can you do to take advantage of the neurological benefits of warm weather? Our specialists at Foothills Neurology recommend these helpful tips:

  1. Get outside. Spending time outdoors is the easiest way to increase your exposure to sunlight. Take a long walk through the park, walk the dog, go for a hike, or just sit a while on the beach or your patio. If you have less free time, you can still go for a short walk, sit outside and read a book on your lunch break, or enjoy a meal outside.
  2. Be mindful of your sun exposure. While it’s essential to get enough sun exposure to trigger the production of serotonin and vitamin D, it’s also important to be mindful of the potential risks of overexposure to UV rays. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and protective clothing if you plan to spend an extended period outside.
  3. Be consistent. To truly reap the benefits of warm weather on your mood and mental health, it’s essential to be consistent in your sun exposure. Try to spend at least 20-30 minutes outside each day, preferably during the morning hours when the sun’s rays are less intense.

Neurological Help in Phoenix and Scottsdale

There are many neurological benefits to spending time in the sun, including increased production of serotonin and vitamin D. By being mindful of your sun exposure and consistent in your habits, you can enjoy the mood-boosting benefits of warm weather all season long. If you struggle with mood swings or disorders, like anxiety, depression, or seasonal affective disorder, contact Foothills Neurology today for assistance. Our specialists can help you lead a better life.



Foothills Neurology