E04 - Why light will make your attention bright

Learn how sunlight in the morning is the number 1 life hack towards mastering your attention throughout the day.

Hi,
My name is Lemmy and this is my story about how I became The Attention Master. In Episode 4, I want to make you aware of THE most important and easiest way to get alert in the morning: natural sunlight.

What you’ll learn today:

  • How sunlight wakes you up

  • The connection between sunlight & dopamine

  • How to put our Community Challenge into action with the habit loop

This week’s community challenge

Get 10 minutes of sunlight before 10am

- Lemmy, the Attention Master

1. The sleep-wake cycle

Evolution has equipped our eyes with cells that have a very clear job description: Count how many photons (=light) end up in the eye to signal to their boss - the circadian master clock - that the day has started.

The circadian master clock then releases a healthy dose of cortisol into our system to tell every other region of our brain and body to switch from night to day mode. As a result, sunlight fires up our alertness system in the morning.

2. Light & Dopamine

I told you in previous episodes that dopamine is NOT the pleasure molecule and that it rather plays a significant role in attention, motivation, and mood.

Dopamine Release
It seems obvious that the right amount of dopamine in the morning helps you get alert. And sunlight is just doing that, triggering the release of dopamine from different parts of your brain.

But there is a second way that most people have not heard of:

Increased Dopamine Receptors
Sunlight exposure can increase the amount of dopamine receptors, specifically DRD4, in your brain. So no matter how much volume of dopamine is circulating in your body, the effect of it on your motivation and attention is increasing through sunlight.

My easy formula for you to memorize: Morning sunlight = Dopamine2 (= Dopa Release x Dopa Receptors)

3. Frequently Asked Questions

What about windows?

  • Closed window: Nope, not working.

  • Putting your head out: Fine if you are not completely shadowed. The more you are directed towards the sun, the more photons will arrive in your eyes.

How long do I need to stay outside?

  • Clear days: 5 minutes.

  • Cloud cover and sun peeking through a bit: 10 minutes.

  • Densely overcast or rainy days: 20-30 minutes.

Can I wear glasses?

  • Sunglasses: Nope, they filter out the essential part of the light for this to work.

  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses: Yes, no negative effect.

Indoor options?

If you can't get outside due to weather or other reasons, consider using a sunlight simulator or a bright LED light as a last resort.

DONT!

Never look at any light or sunlight that's so bright that it's painful to look at because you can damage your eyes. If it's too bright, just look towards it, not directly at it. Blinking is absolutely fine.

Lemmy's Hack to put it into action with the Habit Loop method

Since getting sunlight can happen passively, it’s easiest if you connect it to another action that you already do in the morning and that makes you go outside. Examples are going to the bakery, taking the dog out, sports, bringing the kids to kindergarten or school, commuting to work etc.

If none of these applies to you and you are a lazy home office potato like me, here comes my suggestion:

  • Prepare your first drink of the day, grab something to write and go outside.

  • Walk or sit, whatever you prefer, and write down the most important task of the day that you will tackle when you go back inside.

  • Also write down the second most important task and the 1 most urgent task that should be done by the end of the day.

  • When you are back inside, pin it to your desk.

If you manage to get the first done, it’s a successful day already. If you complete the other two, you will have full peace of mind at the end of your day.

If this is not reward enough already, I am sure ending the work day on time and enjoying your leisure time will be!

Second hack: First work call of the day while walking outside.

Tell me whether this worked for you &
see ya next week
Lemmy

Recap:

  • Community Challenge: 10 minutes of sunlight before 10am

  • Sunlight -> Eyes -> Circadian Clock -> “Let’s go everybody”

  • Formula: Morning sunlight = Dopamine2 (Dopa Release x Dopa Receptors)

  • Exposure Duration: 5-30 minutes, depending on weather conditions

  • Action Hack: Connect it with something else you can do outside

Sources:

  • Huberman AI

  • How light sets up your mental energy for sustained productivity and resilience (Ultraproductive)

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