Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sunshine cheers you up (or Bright Light reduces anxiety)

This is a study to put next to or even in tension with the one I was referring to a few days ago about melatonin and the implication that I drew from it that darkness is needed to maximise your Growth Hormone production.

These scientists examined the influence of acute bright light exposure on anxiety. If you read the full paper there are lots of limitations to which the researchers admit, such as a lack of a control (!) but their conclusion is that:

....consistent and significant (albeit modest) anxiolytic effects following acute bright light exposure in low anxious adults (lets just say that it cheers you up!).

This is an interesting paper to read here in the UK where we have just put the clocks back as we return to GMT. In Scotland it is now getting dark at 4:30pm......and it is depressing. I personally feel better if I am able to get some sunlight during the day. Talk about seasonal affective disorder, I can feel it kicking in already!

Darkness is still important for melatonin production, but there is a balance. Light can reduce anxiety and depression. You need the dark and the sleep but there is another side to the cycle, the light....

Art Devany, as always, has an interesting take on this:

I don't know, but I think it is possible to more bored today than ever before and certainly far beyond what a human may have felt 100,000 years ago (my baseline for relevance). A long winter in a cave at a Northern Latitude was probably hard. Depression may have been a coping mechanism that kept our ancestors from killing one another.


Mark Reifkind said...

good post.I definitely feel this is true and am noticing it more these days than ever. I grew up inundated with sun in Miami florida and grew to hate the glare. I used to love grey overcast weather( lived in oregon and loved it) but a few years ago it shifted and I found myself getting 'down' when it got cold and grey and loving the sun and theheat again. Now I try to sit outside and get even jsut ten minutes or so of direct sun everyday if I can and it really brightens mymood almost immediately.great blog dude,lots of interesting links too.

Chris said...

Rif - thanks for stopping by!