In almost all of the Spotlight Interviews we've conducted, a consistent theme emerges – beginning your day with a morning surf has profound positive effects on both your mental and physical well-being. The benefits go beyond mere placebo, and in this article we explore 8 reasons you should start your day with a dawn patrol surf. We even get a little scientific too drawing in articles and studies from some top doctors and neuroscientists.
1. Morning Sun Exposure
Getting regular sunlight in your eyes first thing in the morning has a remarkable impact on your mood, focus, and overall sleep quality. Research shows that viewing sunlight within an hour or two upon waking up can increase your body’s cortisol levels by 50%. Cortisol, a hormone crucial for wakefulness, immune system function, learning consolidation, and brain health, plays a key role in enhancing your well-being.¹
2. Spending Time In Nature
Spending time in nature is a proven method for combating mental fatigue and replenishing your ability to focus.²
3. Cold Water Exposure
Immersing yourself in cold water triggers the release of dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in your nervous system, which can significantly boost alertness, motivation, and focus.³
Surfing and being in the ocean are an excellent meditative practice. It connects you with nature, eliminates distractions, and allows your mind to relax. Daily meditation has been shown to enhance attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation.⁴
While exercise is known to be beneficial for your physical health, it also plays a crucial role in stress reduction. Surfing, as a low-impact exercise that engages your entire body, can elevate your cortisol levels which helps regulate your body's stress response.⁵
6. Rest (cognitive and emotional rest)
Just as your body needs rest, your brain requires downtime. Surfing provides an ideal activity for giving your mind a break and leaving you feeling refreshed. It disconnects you from screens and places you in a natural setting known to reduce stress. Surfing demands complete coordination and focus on your body and the present surroundings, making it a good tool to take your mind off the stresses of the day.
7. Social Connection
Starting your day with social connection can have a powerful impact on your mood, well-being, and mindset. By promoting the release of feel-good hormones, reducing stress, improving cognitive function, and promoting healthy behaviors, social connection can help you to feel more positive and energized throughout the day. Research also suggests that people with strong social support are more resilient in the face of stress. Surfing is a great way to connect with friends and meet new people out in the lineup.⁶
8. Negative Ions
Did you know that the beach is rich in negative ions? Despite their name, these ions have a positive impact on our health. Negative ions are oxygen molecules with an extra negatively charged electron created by water, air, sunlight and the Earth's natural radiation. Here are a few benefits of negative ions;
a) They increase serotonin release, alleviating depression, stress, and boosting energy.
b) They purify the air by attaching to positively charged electrons in bacteria, viruses, dust, pollen, mold spores, pet dander, and cigarette smoke.
c) They enhance oxygen flow to the brain, resulting in increased alertness, reduced drowsiness, and improved mental acuity.⁷
So next time you set your alarm for a dawn patrol surf, don't hit that snooze! Get out there and surf, you wont regret it - and your mind and body will be better for it!
- Using Light for Health - Andrew Huberman PhD, 2023
- Associations between Nature Exposure and Health: A Review of the Evidence, 2021
- The Science & Use of Cold Exposure for Health & Performance, Andrew Huberman PhD, 2022
- Behavioural Brain Research, 2019
- Using Cortisol & Adrenaline to Boost Our Energy & Immune System, Andrew Huberman PhD, 2021
- Science of Social Bonding in Family, Friendship & Romantic Love, Andrew Huberman PhD, 2021
- Beach State of Mind: Dr Heidi Hanna on Good Morning San Diego, Heidi Hanna PhD, 2018