Every year thousands of people head down to Stone Henge to celebrate the Summer Solstice, but due to the postponement of large-scale events earlier this week, many will have to celebrate the Summer Solstice in another way. We compiled data to reveal the cities who’ll experience the longest days, their sunrise and sunset times as well as finding out whether extra sunlight really does make you happy?
What is the Summer Solstice?
The summer solstice occurs when the sun reaches the most northern point from the earths equator during the year. The term “summer solstice” is derived from the latin “sol” (sun) and sister (stands still), quite literally meaning the “sun stands still”. The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year with many regions across the UK having between averaging around 16-17 hours of sunlight.
When is the Summer Solstice in 2021?
This year the summer solstice occurs on the 21st of June. Whilst this may seem like a momentous occasion that you cannot miss, across the UK, you’ll only be receiving one extra second of sunlight from the previous day, and five seconds of extra sunlight from the following day. The 18th to the 25th of June will be the sunniest week of the year.
UK Sunlight Hours During This Years Summer Solstice
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How those extra rays impact your mental health
Brigham Young University found that during the seasons with less sunlight, mental health issues increased and that sunshine has a great impact on our wellbeing as a whole. This correlates with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression that occurs during the autumn and winter months. It is thought that the lack of sunlight during these periods disrupts the functioning of the hypothalamus which can affect the production of melatonin, serotonin and the circadian rhythm. When we’re exposed to sunlight it is thought that the brain increases the production of serotonin, the hormone that is responsible or boosting your mood and maintaining relaxed. Studies have found that cells within the retina impact your mood and that when sunlight reaches these cells it can trigger the release of serotonin. The sun is also a plentiful resource in terms of acquiring vitamin D, and one study has found that those suffering from depression who were given vitamin D supplements had reduced symptoms.
Sunlight regulates your circadian rhythm too, through telling your body when to increase and decrease the amount of melatonin, which is often coined as the “sleep hormone”. Sleep is essential for the body and mind to recharge, and those with decreased amounts of sleep often suffer psychological problems too. In fact, according to a survey by the mental health foundation, 48% of adults and 66% of teenagers agreed that sleeping badly has a negative affect on their mental health.
How sunlight affects our general health
It’s well documented that the sun can provide a plentiful resource for vitamin D. This vitamin regulates the calcium and phosphate in the body and are able to keep your teeth, bones and muscles in peak condition. There are also a number of studies that have found some surprising benefits of vitamin D in the fighting of disease. In one study they found that vitamin D reduces the chances of catching the flu, whereas other studies have found that it can reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis and the development of heart disease.
Does Sunlight make you happy?
We looked at the sunniest areas in the UK using data from the Met Office, and correlated this with ONS data to find out if the residents of the sunniest areas of the UK are the happiest as compared with the residents of areas with the lowest sun exposure. Whilst you’d expect those in sunnier areas to be happy, a number of these towns expressed low happiness levels compared to the national average.
This was unsurprising to lead psychologist of Asana Lodge; Dr Alexander Lapa who stated that there is much more to happiness than having an increased exposure to sunlight. “Sunlight can definitely have a positive impact on our mental and physical health” said Dr Lapa, who insisted that with his clients he has seen the positive affects both mentally and physically that extra sunlight. Lapa insisted that happiness cannot be achieved solely by increasing sunlight exposure; “achieving happiness is a multivariate issue and cannot be achieved alone by spending more time in the sun”. This would explain how a number of towns and cities across the UK had increased sunlight exposure but were quite low on the happiness score, specifically Chichester who has the highest amount of sunlight exposure but has one of the worst happiness scores in the UK.
Are People in Sunnier Locations Happier?