Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Delightful Hawaii Mornings

Every day on Hawaii Island we cherish how great we feel when wake up in the morning.  It is a special type of joy to awaken to the sounds of tropical birds, the smell of flowers, and the sight of a brilliant sunrise.

We were recently reading a book called Your Brain On Nature: The Science of Nature's Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality that details research that explains why we sleep so well and feel so great when we wake up on Hawaii Island.  We specify Hawaii Island because many of the attributes are unique to Hawaii Island.

We go to sleep with a very dark sky.
Hawaii Island is careful to control light pollution in support of the optical telescopes on Mauna Kea.  There are lighting ordinances that require shielded light and limited street lights.  On cloudless nights, the bright stars are visible above when we fall asleep at night.  According to Dr. Selhub, research shows that artificially brightened night skies interfere with the sleep cycle by affecting melatonin production and that even low levels of light during the night can interfere with normal adult brain cell structures. Our very dark night sky helps us get into a deeper sleep.

At night we hear calming sounds of nature.
We keep our windows open and can hear the wind blow through the palm trees as we fall asleep. A Japanese research team at Chiba University showed that sounds of nature, like the sound of a creek, changes the brain blood flow to a state of relaxation. A study from Stockholm University showed that nature sounds calmed people down whereas road traffic noise increased stress based on measurable physiological markers.  We don’t have noise from traffic or machinery where we live.  We didn't realize how quiet it was until we spent some time in Honolulu last year and were unsettled by the constant background drone of traffic, AC, and machinery spiked with loud sirens all night long. 

We wake up to a symphony of tropical birds songs 
Every morning the birds start to sing as the sun is rising.  Research published in Psychological Medicine in 2006 showed that hearing birds songs in the morning lifts the mood and decreases fatigue.

Blue light shines through our windows at sunrise  
Early morning light has more blue spectrumThe eye is very sensitive to the blue color (460nm) and causes the brain to wake up, increase alertness, and boost concentration. Researchers at the University of Greenwich showed that blue light made people happier, more alert, and more productive. The blue spectrum declines the most in the winter compared to other spectrums, but in Hawaii we do not lose our blue spectrum light in the winter.

We breathe fresh air and negative air ions.
Breathing in negatively charged air ions, most prevalent in the morning, has been shown to improve health. Dr Selhub cites research that shows negative air ions reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and improve cognitive performance.  Negatively charged ions are depleted by pollution, electronic devices, and in enclosed places. Being near the ocean with warm tropical rain, gives us plentiful negative air ions in Hawaii.

We have aromas from flowers all year long.
We love having beautiful, tropical flowers around us all the time.  Research at Wheeling Jesuit University found that the aromatic chemicals in flowers can increase alertness, even in extremely small concentrations.

We start every day by waking up to bird chatter, soaking in the early morning sunlight, breathing in negative air ions, and smelling the flowers.  Now we know it is not just our imagination that this place is good for our health. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such a well-researched and informative post! Thank you for sharing!