Why Sunshine Is Important for Good Health
Solar radiation can be dangerous if you get too much of it. When you step out into the blazing sun without wearing SPF protection, you increase your risk of sunburn and skin diseases, or worse, skin cancer.
While we’ve often heard about the dangers associated with the sun’s rays, not much is said about the importance of soaking in an adequate amount of sunshine. Sunlight can do wonders for your health: it can improve your mood and mind, strengthen your bones, and nourish your overall health.
When you step outside during the early morning hours, your skin gets a healthy dose of vitamin D from the slanting rays. Allowing your skin to regularly soak in the sunshine can have dozens of benefits, short-term as well as long-term.
How Does Sunshine Affect Your Health?
Here’s how the sun’s rays can impact your health.
Supplies Vitamin D3
Sun is the best source of vitamin D3 for your body. Vitamin D3 can promote cell growth and reduce inflammation. While there are plenty of vitamin D3 supplements on the market, sunshine is a free, abundant natural source. According to WHO, being in the morning sun for 10-15 minutes every day is enough to improve your physical and mental health.
Remember that, if you are outside for longer than 15 minutes, you’ll have to apply a layer of sunscreen to your exposed skin.
Several studies show that people with little access to sunlight during cold seasons have more health issues.
On the flip side, people who live in places with plenty of sunshine experience better mental and physical health and a more cheerful mood. As a general rule, sunny seasons boost your mood better than gray, rainy seasons.
A daily dose of sunlight can increase your level of serotonin, which helps you keep Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) at bay. When combined with the appropriate medical treatment, sunshine can help treat anxiety and depression.
"The sun works through a number of receptors in the brain to affect our mental status and alertness. Moderate sunlight exposure helps improve your mood and focus by boosting the serotonin levels in your body. Also known as the 'happiness hormone', it makes you calm and alert. Also, "sunlight decreases the risk of depression in those at risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), says Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio
Promotes sound sleep
Serotonin can do more than just rejuvenate your mood. Studies state that the hormone can also help you achieve sound sleep. When you step into the sun, your brain releases a chemical called melatonin that makes you drowsy. Serotonin and melatonin work together, and sunlight stimulates your body to produce both these hormones. If you suffer from insomnia, make sure you get enough sunlight during the day so that you can sleep soundly at night.
Decreases blood pressure
When you bask in the sunlight, your body releases nitric oxide into your bloodstream, which can improve heart health and regulate blood pressure.
Sunbathing regularly can help your body maintain steady blood pressure, reducing the likelihood of strokes or cardiac ailments.
As stated earlier, sunlight improves your mood. When you’re in a good mood and feel relaxed, your risk of developing heart and blood pressure problems automatically decreases.
Promotes bone growth
The only natural source of vitamin D3, the growth hormone, is the sun. Vitamin D3 allows your body to properly absorb calcium, which is important for good bone health, from the food or supplements you take.
Studies show that vitamin D3 is already present in your body, but when sunlight falls on your skin, it causes a chemical reaction that actives the vitamin. Sunshine can activate dormant vitamin D3 in your body to promote healthy bone growth.
When sunbathing, be sure to get sunlight on your arms, face, back, and palms to reap the greatest benefit.
It’s time to unlearn the idea that being in the sun results in skin cancer. If you safely expose your body to the sunlight, you may actually be able to protect yourself from skin cancer.
According to a popular study, when your skin comes into contact with the sun’s UVB rays (short wave ultraviolet radiation), the exposure decreases the risk of melanoma.
The study also shows that most outdoor workers who came into full contact with the sunlight had a reduced risk of skin cancer compared to indoor workers.
Getting an adequate amount of sunlight can also reduce the risk of ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, and colon cancers in the future.
Promotes weight loss
Basking in the early morning sunlight can aid your weight loss efforts. Studies show that getting 20-30 minutes of morning sun exposure daily can slim your waistline, as well as reduce your BMI (body mass index).
What if I can’t access enough sunlight?
Certain people don’t get enough sunlight during the day due to their geographical location or work environment. In such cases, healthcare professionals may suggest red light therapy, which sends wavelengths of light into the skin. The red light helps your body produce melatonin.
If you don’t want to invest in a red light therapy device, you can make some lifestyle changes. Try doing some relaxing activities before you go to sleep. Keep to a routine in which you wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. While these things can help you sleep a little better, sunshine is the best way to fight off your insomnia and lull yourself to sleep.