Weight loss and a lower body mass index (BMI) may be attributed to the dawns early light. Researchers have recently discovered that people who receive that majority of their sun exposure in the morning hours have a reported lower BMI, than individuals who receive the majority of their exposure later in the day. The study, conducted by Northwestern University also discovered that the lower BMI was not due to diet, age, or physical activity but to the suns power to help regulate an individual’s energy balance.
The study was conducted by the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and was published in the journal PLOS ONE. In the study 54 participants were recruited in order to better understand circadian rhythms and sleep patterns. According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences the circadian rhythm is a 24 hour cycle that tells the body when to sleep. A disrupted rhythm leads to a changed pattern of eating and sleeping and may also lead to cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes. According to Psych Today, there has also been a correlation between disrupted circadian rhythms and depression and bipolar disorder. Helio also reports that the study required participants to wear wrist actigraphy monitors in order to properly measure sun exposure and sleep timing for 7 days, while participant calorie intake was determined through food logs. One of the main discoveries was that the total amount of sun exposure was not the determinant factor in a lower BMI. The results took into consideration participant’s calorie intake, and amount of exercise, yet found no association. What proved to be more telling of BMI was the individuals timing and duration sun exposure, which accounted for 20 percent of an individual’s BMI. Kathryn Reid, Ph.D., one of the study’s authors says that light tells your body and brain to wake up, thereby regulating the circadian clock.
Dispatch reports that exposure to early sunlight can help with body fat and can influence the hormones that regulate appetite. Psych Central recommends individuals receive the majority of their sunlight between 8 a.m. and noon with 20 to 30 minutes being sufficient to affect BMI. People who wake at later hours are not the only ones at risk of unbalancing their circadian rhythm, individuals who work indoors are also at risk due to the poor lighting most indoor work environments provide. The results have given the researchers a belief that they have reached a breakthrough in obesity prevention, and weight management. Although Giovanni Santostasi, co-lead author of the study, warns that sleep still plays an crucial role in weight management. He warns against waking up earlier and decreasing sleep in order to attain the morning sunlight, without the appropriate sleep waking up to the morning rays would be counterproductive.
Based on the study’s conclusion researchers recommend individuals spend some morning time outside in order to receive the health benefits which include weight management. Researchers also suggest taking lunch breaks outside, and improved lighting at work and school environments, with the preference of these environments providing windows in order for individuals who may not have the availability to spend time outside, to still gain the benefits.
By Dony Lugo