The Connection between Sunlight and Your Health

In the past few decades, we all heard the warnings to avoid staying in the sun for too long and always wear the highest SPF protection. While that is valid and may keep you safe from skin cancers and other conditions, it also made people forget all the benefits of sunshine. There are some that you certainly don’t want to miss since they can greatly contribute to your wellbeing and health.

Spending time in the sun can make you happy

Just like spending time in the dark triggers the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, sunlight increases the production of serotonin. This so-called happiness hormone has a mood-lifting effect and brings calm. If you don’t spend enough time in the sun, your serotonin levels decrease which can lead to low energy levels and even depression.

This is why many psychotherapists advise their patients to use light therapy to boost their mood. It is one of the main treatments for depression with seasonal pattern usually occurring in fall and winter. Spending time in the sun can also be good for other types of depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, anxiety, and panic attacks.

Sunshine can be good for bones and immunity

Exposure to UVB radiation from the sun promotes the production of vitamin D in the skin. This vitamin is vital for bone health and can greatly contribute to the immune system. If you don’t have enough vitamin D, your bones may soften and fracture more easily. Children and the elderly are especially affected by this since their bone health is compromised because of their age. Child’s bones are still developing and forming, while the skeletal system degrades as we get older.

When it comes to immunity, deficiency of vitamin D is connected to increased susceptibility to infection and the onset of autoimmune conditions. Besides these health benefits, vitamin D can also be important for testosterone levels in men and weight loss, especially getting rid of the belly fat.

Sunlight may help with certain skin conditions

Some skin conditions may be treated with exposure to UV radiation. Most notably, psoriasis, lupus vulgaris, rickets, eczema, vitiligo, and acne. While all these conditions have their regular types of therapy, spending limited in the sunlight may bring additional benefits.

However, this doesn’t eliminate the harmful effects of sunlight because of overexposure. While physicians may use UVB lamps during treatment in controlled conditions if you plan to spend time in the sun, make sure to not stay too long, and always wear protection.

Sun may also prevent some cancers

Although you should stay under pergola during summer days, occasional sunbathing for not longer than 15 minutes can prevent some cancers. While it’s common knowledge that sunlight causes cancer, some studies have shown that it may be beneficial for patients suffering from some types of this vicious disease. Specifically, people with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate, colorectal, breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer may benefit from sun exposure two to three times a week. Just make sure to wear appropriate sunscreen and avoid getting sunburns.

It can lower blood pressure

One of the most pointed out benefits of sunlight is that it can help you relax. From a physiological standpoint, this happens because nitric oxide is released in your blood vessels when your skin is exposed to the sun. As a result, your blood pressure can decrease, lowering the risks of cardiovascular diseases, like stroke and heart attack.

Mentally, the warmth of the sun makes you feel nurtured and brings serenity, which can also keep your blood pressure normal. If you are under a lot of stress or already have problems with high blood pressure, soak in the morning sun before you start your day. It can help you clear your head and be more productive without raising your blood pressure levels.

Sun exposure can improve your sleep

Sleeping and being awake is part of the circadian rhythm related to light. In a nutshell, circadian rhythms are changes in the body and mind that happen roughly every 24 hours. They primarily depend on the exposure to light and dark. Because spending time in the sunlight boosts the production of serotonin, your body will be more efficient in making melatonin.

But melatonin doesn’t only improve sleep, it also participated in synchronizing your biological clock and lowering stress levels. Not getting enough sleep can lead to agitated behavior, anxiety, and depression, as well as the loss of concentration and productivity. So, don’t put on your sunglasses and hat too soon in the morning and soak in some of the sunshine before you start your day.

As a conclusion

There wouldn’t be life without sunlight. Just like plants depend on it to thrive, humans need it to function properly. Just by improving your mood and sleep, you can function and feel better about yourself and your environment. Just remember that overexposing yourself to UV radiation can be harmful so make sure to be careful and concentrate on a beneficial amount of sun.

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