Serotonin is commonly known as the feel-good neurotransmitter. It is technically a hormone and a monoamine neurotransmitter. It can have a really big impact on the experience of quality of life, overall joy, and self-esteem. Serotonin lives in the gut and brain primarily.
Low levels are often associated with depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraines, among other things. Serotonin is naturally produced within the body, mostly from the amino acid 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HTP), also called oxitriptan.
This amino acid (5-HTP) is created from L-tryptophan, which can be found in certain foods. Serotonin encourages our motivation, energy, resiliency, healthy sleep, and balanced mood.
Sunlight is thought to increase serotonin, in order to produce a sense of bliss and focus, overall. The absence of sunlight can have the opposite effect, increasing melatonin to aid in sleep. There is a clinically noted Seasonal Affect (mood) Disorder, often called SAD, which is generally said to be caused by a lack of light entering the retina (eye).
This tends to happen during the winter season when the sun is out less and we tend to be indoors more. It feels like general depression throughout the winter months. One of the prescribed treatments for this disorder is a light therapy box, but if you don’t live in the Antarctic, you can simply go outside during sunny days for a little rest and relaxation in the sun to recharge.
This is just one of the reasons that exposure to sunlight is noted as a great kicker for the serotonin lows! Beyond a boost in mood, many other health benefits come from getting some rays.