If you want better sleep, strive to spend at least two hours outdoors during the daylight hours every single day. It doesn’t help if you spend only half hours outdoors during the weekday and make up for it by spending 8 hours on the weekend. It has to be consistent on a daily basis if you want consistent sleep on a daily basis.
Have you ever found that you sleep better after a good long hike outdoors on a weekend?
In previous article, we mentioned that sunlight exposure increases serotonin which then converts into melatonin at night by enzymes produced by the pineal gland in the brain. The pineal gland which produce melationin gets its cue from the light signals coming from the retina of the eye. The contrast of light intensity between day and night is what makes the pineal gland regulate our circadian rhythm.
Melatonin is derived from serotonin, so the more serotonin that is produced during the day, the more it can convert to melatonin at night (with all other things being equal).
Serotonin also helps with mood. That is why depressed people with low serotonin often have poor sleep at night as well and disrupted circadian rhythms. [reference]
If you work at an office job (especially one with no direct windows), make sure you get outside at least two hours during the day. For example, you can do half an hour of walk outside before work, half an hour after work, half hour walk during lunch, and eat lunch outside for another half hour. Of course, in northern locations during the winter, before work and after work is often still dark, so you might need to take outdoor breaks during the day.