Get Out! A Super Simple Sleep Solution

Natural daylight, especially in the morning, will help you fall asleep and improve overall health and happiness

Robert Roy Britt
3 min readDec 13, 2022

Image: Pexels/Leah Kelley

It’s hard to imagine a simpler or more effective prescription for improving brain power, emotional stability, productivity, and overall health and happiness than this one: Spend more time outside. Soaking up plenty of natural daylight, even on a cloudy day, is vital to falling asleep at a reasonable time each night, a new study confirms.

“Our bodies have a natural circadian clock that tells us when to go to sleep at night,” said the study’s senior author, Horacio de la Iglesia, PhD, a professor of biology at the University of Washington. “If you do not get enough exposure to light during the day when the sun is out, that ‘delays’ your clock and pushes back the onset of sleep at night.”

The link is rooted in eons of evolution that set human body clocks on a roughly 24-hour cycle, tied to the rhythm of the sun but easily fooled by light bulbs.

The benefits of exposure to daylight go well beyond better sleep.

Eye-opening benefits

Even on a cloudy day, natural daylight is about 1,000 times brighter than typical home or office lighting. The new finding adds to other research showing that ample daylight — actually being outside — is a key to keeping the body clock well-timed, promoting good sleep and better overall health. As one example, a 2021 analysis of data on 400,000 people found exposure to natural daylight reduces insomnia and improves moods.

The body clock works by governing the release of melatonin and other hormones that determine when we’re sleepy, how well we sleep, and when we’re awake and most alert and capable.

Good sleep, in turn, promotes good physical, mental and emotional health. That makes us more able to handle the stress of any given day, more productive and on top of our game, and therefore more relaxed going into the night and better able to sleep — creating a virtuous cycle.

Yet about a third of U.S. adults do not get enough sleep, based on federal statistics. The statistics are similar in much of the modern world.

Robert Roy Britt

Founder/editor of Wise & Well on Medium & the Writer's Guide at & author of Make Sleep Your Superpower