PERSONAL REVELATION: When things start to get crazy, the first thing that I start to push to the bottom of my list is my workout.
That can't happen.
So after I wake up (at 4:44am), drink water, meditate, have a morning coffee and get 90 minutes of DEEP WORK in…
And I do it in our living room facing the sun as it starts to come up over the trees.
The sun rises and sets at 6am and 6pm respectively everyday (there's no Daylight Savings Time in Costa Rica).
My workouts haven't changed (I'm doing a modified version of my Kettlebell Alpha Program – 1-Arm Snatches and Double Front Squats).
My diet is the same – I just eat the food we have here following a loose 90-10 Rule (90% natural food & meat, 10% ice cream, etc) with 2 x 24-hour fasts every week.
But the one thing that has changed is my recovery… specifically, the QUALITY OF MY SLEEP.
Like I said… workout, diet, stress levels are the same.
The only difference is that I've been training in the morning.
So I did some digging (obviously)…
In an article in the journal “Current Biology” (1), researchers found a “crap ton” (that's a scientific term, btw) connections between sun exposure and the circadian sleep cycle—specifically, the body’s natural ability to procure feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness at the right times (night and day).
They found that when subjects were exposed to more natural light (sun) compared to artificial light, they had an easier time feeling sleepiness and going to sleep at night, thus helping regulate sleep, while also feeling more energized and wakeful in the morning.
So obviously, some sun exposure has benefits to telling the body when to correctly produce melatonin – your sleep hormone – for proper, restful sleep.
Grabbing a bit of that morning sun for a vitamin D boost can also apparently help with sleeping habits, which also gives you amazing returns for health overall.
Science is starting to realize that MORNING sunlight may be the best of all, especially when it comes to improving mood and feelings of well-being.
Which begs the question…
How is AM sunlight any different from that in the afternoon or any other time?
Dr. Jack Kruse, a neurosurgeon, “Bio-Hacker” & CEO – and a guy who I've been following closely for the past year because he likes to talk about the benefits of surfing (another email for another day) – is a longtime proponent of morning sunlight versus other times of day in a recent 2017 article(2).
“Sunlight releases a[n] opiate (ß-endorphin) when we are exposed to the sun. Guess why nature did that? Could it be that she wanted us going in the sunlight often for its healing powers?”
“…It turns out that the combination of [ultraviolet] and [infrared] solar light humans are designed to get in the AM also pre-treats the skin to lower inflammation. The fact that [UV] light induces a small opiate response tell us nature is trying to get us to come out into the solar light in the morning.”
Kruse also observes that both UV and infrared light are the most plentiful together in the AM (between 8 and 10 AM).
Infrared light helps enhance the absorption of UV rays in a healthy way—as opposed to one being overloaded and sunburnt when sunbathing in the middle of the day.
“The fact that [UV] and [infrared] light in AM sunlight work in unison to create this circumstance says something very deep about sunlight importance…. mood will be altered by a chronic lack of AM life.”
In a recent podcast, he also stated in his finding that morning exposure to sunlight is primarily responsible for producing melatonin for that night's sleep.
(Read that part again).
AM sunlight exposure is responsible for producing the sleeping hormone that you'll be using to get a good night's sleep that same night.
So it seems as though my recent ability to recover and sleep better at night (and wake up with, ahem, morning wood – that's not to be crass, but a sure sign that your body is producing testosterone)…
…MIGHT be a result of my exposure to AM Sunlight.
Oh, and I've lost an inch around my waist in the past month as well – remember with NO OTHER CHANGES than training in the morning sun.
All things have been the same…
-same higher stress levels (will this house ever get finished!?!?!!!!)
The only thing that's changed is training in the morning and purposely being exposed to AM Sunlight.
As a result…
- Better sleep.
- Better mood. (More endorphins and dopamine?)
- Morning Wood. (More testosterone?)
- Belly fat lost (less cortisol?)
I don't know if this is something that you're struggling with (getting better quality sleep, optimizing hormones like testosterone and minimizing cortisol)…
…but if it is then you might want to follow along with me and I'll share more information with you.
Recovery is something – again as I start to get older – that I really want to delve into and start learning more about.
As my coach used to always tell me, “It's not about how much you train, it's about how much you can recover from”.