Why Summer Makes Many People Happy

Summer is officially here, and it’s not just your imagination– people are happier. Philip Gehrman, associate director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania says generally, people are more cheerful in the summertime. This is because light serves as the strongest cue to regulate circadian rhythms, which include the sleep cycle, hormonal fluctuations and body temperature. Still, each person’s circadian rhythms are different, so not everyone is feeling their best in the summer. Dr. Irina Zhdanova, a neuroscience professor at Boston University explains, “Sometimes sunlight is good and uplifting during a certain time of the day, while for others, it’s neither uplifting or positive and can induce mild irritation.” However, for most people, the extra sunlight means their circadian rhythm is better aligned with sunlight and darkness, which can affect people’s sleep and moods positively. It’s not clear whether elevated moods come from better aligned circadian rhythms and better sleep, or if the happiness boost is directly attributable to the sunlight– but enjoy it! (Time