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How to get morning sunlight when there's no sunshine outside

TL;DR: When faced with sunless mornings, you can still capture the benefits of morning sunlight by using artificial bright light therapy lamps or maximizing the natural light available on cloudy days. Light therapy lamps mimic sunlight and can help regulate your circadian rhythm, boost mood, and increase energy levels. On overcast days, spending 20-30 minutes outside can still provide beneficial effects from natural light. These practical solutions can help you maintain your daily rhythm and start your day feeling energized, even on the gloomiest days.

Waking up to a dark or overcast morning can be a major disruption to your body's natural rhythm. The absence of morning sunlight can leave you feeling sluggish, unmotivated, and out of sync with your daily routine. Exposure to morning sunlight plays a crucial role in regulating our circadian rhythm, the internal process that governs our sleep-wake cycle. When we're deprived of this essential light cue, our bodies struggle to adjust, leading to feelings of fatigue and decreased productivity.

However, there are practical solutions to ensure that even on the gloomiest days, you can capture the essence of a sunny morning and keep your routine in check. By understanding the science behind morning sunlight and implementing effective strategies, you can maintain your energy levels, boost your mood, and start your day on the right foot.

The Science of Morning Sunlight

Exposure to morning sunlight has a profound impact on our physiology. When light enters our eyes, it stimulates the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in our brain, which acts as our body's master clock. The SCN regulates the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for inducing sleep, and cortisol, the hormone associated with wakefulness and energy.

Morning sunlight exposure suppresses melatonin production and increases cortisol levels, signaling to our body that it's time to wake up and start the day. This process helps to synchronize our internal clock with the external environment, ensuring that we feel alert and energized during the day and sleepy at night.

In addition to its impact on our sleep-wake cycle, morning sunlight also plays a role in regulating our mood. Exposure to bright light in the morning has been shown to increase serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. This is particularly important for individuals suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs during the darker months of the year.

Practical Solutions for Sunless Mornings

  1. Light Therapy Lamps: Light therapy lamps, also known as SAD lamps or bright light therapy boxes, are designed to mimic the effects of sunlight. These lamps emit a bright light that closely resembles natural outdoor light, providing a concentrated dose of illumination that can help regulate your circadian rhythm and boost your mood.

When choosing a light therapy lamp, look for one that emits a light intensity of at least 10,000 lux, the measure of light brightness. Position the lamp at a 45-degree angle from your eyes, about 16-24 inches away, and use it for 20-30 minutes each morning. It's important to note that while light therapy lamps are generally safe, it's always best to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.

  1. Maximizing Natural Light on Cloudy Days: Even on cloudy days, natural light still has beneficial effects. While the intensity of light may be reduced, the diffused light can still provide a valuable cue to your body's internal clock.

If you wake up to an overcast sky, don't retreat indoors. Instead, make an effort to spend some time outside, even if it's just for a short walk or a few minutes on your balcony or porch. Aim for 20-30 minutes of outdoor time, allowing your body to soak up whatever natural light is available. If possible, try to do this early in the day to maximize the benefits.

Creating a Bright Indoor Environment

In addition to using light therapy lamps and maximizing natural light on cloudy days, you can also create a bright indoor environment to support your body's natural rhythm. Open your curtains or blinds as soon as you wake up, allowing any available natural light to flood your living space. Consider painting your walls a light, reflective color to bounce light around the room and create a more luminous atmosphere.

Investing in high-quality, energy-efficient light bulbs can also make a difference. Look for bulbs with a color temperature of 5000K or higher, which mimics the cool, bright light of the sun. Position these lights strategically around your home, particularly in areas where you spend the most time in the morning, such as your kitchen or workspace.


Sunless mornings don't have to dictate the start of your day. By understanding the science behind morning sunlight and implementing practical solutions, you can mimic the benefits of natural light and maintain your daily rhythm. Whether it's using light therapy lamps, maximizing natural light on cloudy days, or creating a bright indoor environment, there are effective ways to ensure that you start each day feeling energized and ready to take on the world.

Remember, consistency is key. Make morning light exposure a regular part of your routine, even on days when the weather doesn't cooperate. By prioritizing this essential aspect of your well-being, you'll be better equipped to navigate the challenges of daily life, maintain a positive mood, and achieve your goals.