Sunshine has a lot to do with mental and emotional well-being of people, reports a recent study conducted by researchers at the Brigham Young University.
While it is well known that sun rays play a vital role in physical wellness, scientists have cracked the effect of sunshine on a person's mental health. It is reported that people are emotionally and mentally healthy during sunny days than gloomy days.
When the amount of time between sunrise and sunset decreases, the mental distress of an individual increases. Moreover, the findings are not specific to individuals suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder but for all people, noted the researchers.
A team of three researchers from BYU including Mark Beecher, a licensed psychologist and clinical professor, Lawrence Rees, a professor of physics and Dennis Eggett, a statistics professor set out to study the association between weather and mental health of people.
Beecher, who had access to clients' health data, was able to provide information on emotional distress people faced during different seasons. Rees had hands-on information on weather and Beecher had the idea to identify the link between the two.
The investigators concentrated on weather variables including rainfall, wind speed, wind chill, temperature, solar irradiance and few others. The issue was also studied in clinical population rather than in general population. Moreover, unlike other researches, this study relied on data involving real-time mental health outcomes of people and not on suicide attempt records and other personal logs.
It was observed as a result that increase in sun time had reduced risk of mental distress. Interestingly, people's mental health condition was good although the skies are interspersed with clouds on and off on some days when the amount of sunlight was high.
A good amount of solar irradiance had a positive impact on people's mental health irrespective of presence of pollution, rains and clouds. When the amount of sunlight that hit the ground from sunrise to sunset was fair enough, the rains and clouds didn't really matter.
The researchers also noted that winter season would likely bring more people for treatment due to poor sunlight.
"Therapists should be aware that winter months will be a time of high demand for their services. With fewer sun time hours, clients will be particularly vulnerable to emotional distress. Preventative measures should be implemented on a case-by-case basis," noted Beecher in a press release.
The study is published online in the Journal of Affective Disorders.