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☀️ Morning Light Week☀️
Let's try this together
Join me for the first Morning Light Week, which will run from Sunday, October 15, to Sunday, October 22. Each day that week, I’ll send out a nudge by email to get sunlight into our eyes early in the morning. I’ll also post a “good morning” chat thread in the Substack app, where you can say hello and even share photos of the light where you are, anywhere in the world.
Sign up for Morning Light Week + more Winter Hope emails
Sunlight has so many profound benefits. It triggers a cortisol release early and influences our circadian rhythm, our “body clock,” including when we get sleepy in the evening.
Morning Light Week is also designed to help us get ready for winter by introducing a new habit we can take with us as fortification. Light can be powerful in helping us thrive in the cold, dark season. About 14% of the U.S. population experience “winter blues,” lower energy and mood in the winter. Another 6% experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of major depression that typically happens in the winter. Light has been shown to be useful in elevating moods and overall health.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and nothing here is medical advice. Depression is a serious illness, and light alone does not cure it. Please see your physician for advice and help. There are many resources, and you deserve to feel better.
Morning Light Week comes out through this Winter Hope newsletter. It’s totally free!
What you get:
Daily emails during Morning Light Week: Each morning, you’ll get a short email that encourages you to get morning light in your eyes and describes one of the benefits in more detail.
Access to a morning spot to say hello: Using the Winter Hope chat in the Substack app, you connect to other people doing Morning Light Week, too — say good morning, share a photo of the morning light where you are, post a thought about your morning, and see photos from others experiencing sunlight where they are, too. It’s a little bit of community as you experience sunlight to start your day.
I moved to New York from Virginia seven years ago. The winters in the Hudson Valley stretch a long while. Even in March, we can still get hit with a snowstorm. I remember that first year so acutely, longing for spring to arrive in March, and then April, and even the first days May, and despairing: Would winter ever end?
By mid-May, spring was in full bloom, but that’s a long six months of winter, half of the year. It was a far distance from the balmy Virginia Beach days from my 20s. I started to really dread winter.
One year, for Christmas, my husband gave me a light therapy lamp. I had bought big clunky sun lamp years ago that I never seemed to put out for more than a day, but this new one had a flat, LCD screen, small enough to sit on my bedside table close to my face. I started using it in the morning, first thing when I woke up, while I wrote or read in bed.
I had to experiment a bit — the brightest level (my lamp has 3 levels of light) made me feel headachy and dizzy, but the lowest level, set for 20 minutes felt good.
To my surprise, I felt real differences: I was much more alert and clear-headed during the day. I slept better at night. I noticed my mood was up.
Like 14% or so of the U.S. population (more closer to the poles, fewer near the equators), I was experiencing “winter blues,” lower energy and mood in the winter.
Getting outside for real sunlight — adding movement and fresh air, and the true solar power of the sun — has benefits, too. Morning Light Week is a chance to do it together and see how sunlight can affect our day, our mood, our sleep.
A year or two ago, I started listening to Huberman Lab, a terrific podcast by Dr. Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist who specializes in vision.
He repeatedly advises listeners of the benefits of morning sunlight. I was using light therapy before I started listening to his podcast, and he has only reinforced for me the science behind why light is so effective. Read Using Light for Health for more guidance from Dr. Huberman.
(Note: Dr. Huberman and Huberman Lab have no connection or affiliation to Winter Hope, Morning Light Week, or Odyssey of the Body. I am merely a fan of the show and recommend it as a good source for more scientific information about morning light and a great deal of scientific health information.)
He advises that just 5-10 minutes of sun in the morning can trigger your early cortisol release and show effects. If it’s cloudy, the sun is still there and more powerful than your ordinary indoor light bulbs, but then you’ll need 15-20 minutes.
Light therapy lamps
If it’s dark outside where you wake up, you could use a light therapy lamp instead.
Two notes: People who experience manic episodes should talk to their doctor before using artificial light therapy, as it can reportedly trigger a manic episode. And nothing in this post or any other content on Winter Hope, Odyssey of the Body, or related sites is medical advice. I am not a doctor! Please talk to your healthcare professional if you have any concerns for your particular health.
Are you up for Morning Light Week?
I hope you’ll join us for this fun week and daily nudges from Oct. 15 to Oct. 22 to try a new habit!
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