It’s National Sun Day! Getting out into the early morning sun – WITHOUT SUNGLASSES – is so important for overall health but also circadian rhythm support.
Light shapes life. Just as real, whole foods fresh from the farm are healthiest for us, sunlight provides us with the type of light that nature intended for the human body. “Junk light” is all the man-made light that most of us bathe in after the sun sets: LED or fluorescent light bulbs both indoors and outdoors, and the brightly-lit screens on our cell phones, TVs, laptops and other devices.
The unnatural level of blue in this light spectrum messes up our circadian (day-night) rhythm, leading not only to sleep problems, but also to issues with blood sugar regulation, hormonal balance, increased appetite, thyroid and adrenal imbalances, and more!
When it comes to the thyroid gland, sunlight optimizes both T3 thyroid hormone (the “active” thyroid hormone your cells use to help make energy in your cells) and Vitamin A cycles in humans. Our use of blue-lit technology ruins both T3 and Vitamin A.
How else does lack of sunlight and excess of blue light at night affect thyroid function?
Leptin is a hormone that is produced just under your subcutaneous fat. Leptin requires UV-A and infrared light from the sun to work properly. Excess blue light leads to leptin resistance. Leptin resistance in turn leads to inflammation, which suppresses the liver’s process of conversion of inactive T4 thyroid hormone into active T3 thyroid hormone.
Blue light at night is a huge stressor to our bodies, and under such stress, cortisol may be elevated, or if you’ve been stressed out for a long time, then your cortisol may be low. When cortisol is low, Cortisol Releasing Hormone (CRH) rises. CRH then quickly inhibits TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) and T3 as well. Then any excess T4 is immediately converted to Reverse T3 (RT3), which you can think of as “anti-T3,” essentially turning off your active thyroid hormone, T3.
Because CRH directly inhibits TSH, TSH is not a helpful marker for the status of your thyroid health. Without knowing your cortisol status, the information on a standard thyroid panel is not very useful. This is a huge reason for many thyroid misdiagnoses and the source of much frustration for patients who don’t feel any better even though their thyroid lab numbers are “normal.”
While this all sounds very complicated, the action you need to take is simple:
- Get outside into the early morning sun. This can be as easy as sitting on your patio with your morning glass of water.
- Get as much sun during the day as possible.
- Stop wearing sunglasses.
- Expose as much skin as possible when you’re out in the sun. (There is a way to do this for fair-skinned people, but there’s no room to explain it here. When you work with me, this is definitely something we work on!
- Protect yourself from blue light exposure after dusk. (How? Join my program.)
Does this all sound crazy to you? When I got serious about my “light hygiene,” it turned me, a lifelong night owl, into an early bird who wakes up before the alarm clock. I stopped having an afternoon energy crash every day. My overall energy increased, too. And it’s not just me, my clients who have followed this advice have reaped the amazing benefits, too!
Are you looking to sleep better, improve you energy, and lose weight? The answer may be in the light you choose.
Want to learn more? Schedule a 20-minute Vibrant Health Strategy Session with me!