By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–
Forbes Magazine online has run and excellent article on sunlight and sleep, in which they state the following statistics: “In 2012, 60 Million Americans filled prescriptions for sleeping pills, up from 46 million in 2006.”
The article discusses the potential dangers of sleep medications, showing that those who take 18 pills per year have a tripling of the risk of death compared to those who take fewer than that 18. It then describes the results of recent research showing that people whose workplaces have windows are able to sleep about 46 minutes per night more than those who have no natural light access. Those who had more exposure to sunlight also were generally happier, had fewer ailments and experienced better vitality than their counterparts without windows.
This research is particularly interesting because the effects of sunlight had nothing to do with vitamin D, since the sunlight exposure came through windows, which block the UVB light necessary for vitamin D production. It is likely that the positive effects of sunlight in this case were produced by increasing serotonin levels (a natural mood enhancer) in the brain during the sunlight exposure, and then allowing melatonin (a natural relaxer) to take over during the night for a restful sleep.
Lack of sleep is a common, and perhaps deadly, malady. The sun is not our enemy, but a vital friend. Embrace it, but do not burn.
 Iel F Kripke, Robert D Langer, Lawrence E Kline. Hypnotics’ association with mortality or cancer: a matched cohort study. BMJ Open 2012;2:e000850 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000850.