Many people love the sun for the warm feeling it leaves on the skin or the opportunity to shed some layers. Sunshine brings many benefits, some of which are not strictly linked to your physical well-being. It’s common knowledge that too much direct exposure to the sun’s rays can be harmful, causing skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. Finding the right balance is key.
Are you feeling tired for reasons you can’t explain, even though you got nine hours of sleep last night? Just step outside and look up. Being in the sun is an effective way to feel more energetic, especially in the morning. (This doesn’t apply when it’s scorching hot outside, which has the opposite effect and can be dangerous.)
The sun is the best known source of Vitamin D. The vitamin actually functions as a hormone, and every single cell in the body has a receptor for it, which is why it affects many functions and processes that keep a person healthy and happy. The new recommended daily amount, as per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is 600 international units a day. That’s about 10-15 minutes in the sun a day.
Sunshine and serotonin, the “happy hormone,” go hand in hand. Don’t get into a vicious cycle of feeling gloomy, tired and lazy. One of the worst things you can do for your body is stay at home for days at a time. Let the sun shine on you and feel happier within minutes. Sunlight has been proven to help with winter blues.
Exposure to sunlight during the day helps keep circadian rhythms on track and boosts levels of serotonin, which in turn helps you fall asleep more easily, enjoy a better night’s sleep and wake up more refreshed. The production of serotonin in the brain also helps a person feel calm and focused.
Exposure to the sun, and the boost in Vitamin D has been found to possibly prevent cancer. A study connected Vitamin D deficiency with cancer by studying the incidence of colon cancer in New York versus New Mexico. New York had three times the incidence of colon cancer. Research now suggests that there is also a correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer.
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects people in the summer as well as in the winter. The cause of SAD is light in daylight wavelengths not hitting the eyes, which in sensitive people means the brain doesn't generate enough serotonin (the “happy” hormone). The best time to be outside is when you get the greatest amount of natural light. A simple walk gives you a daylight boost as well as some exercise. The day is usually brightest in the early afternoons. Sit next to a window if you can’t get out.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in older people, research shows. Study participants who were in the moderately Vitamin D deficient group were 69 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. That number jumped to 122 percent for those severely deficient.
MS is more common in people who live further away from the equator and research shows that early sunlight exposure in life can influence the risk of developing MS.
Sunlight, through a mechanism separate than vitamin D production, energizes T cells that play a central role in immunity, according to Georgetown University Medical Center. Low levels of blue light, found in sun rays, makes T cells move faster — marking the first reported human cell responding to sunlight by speeding its pace. They need to move to do their job, which is to get to the site of an infection and fight it.
There is a good kind of fat and a bad one. White fat cells (considered bad fat because they store calories that are needed for energy) tend to shrink under the effect of the sun's blue light, according to research. When it gets under the skin and reaches the fat cells, lipid (fat) droplets get smaller and leave the cell. This means the body stores less fat.
Don’t stare into direct sunlight, of course! Natural outdoor light exposure stimulates the eyes’ photosensitive cells, according to Vision Care Specialists. Myopia, or nearsightedness, has soared. Research shows that the key reason for why that is may be staying inside for too long and having too much screen-time (artificial light).
Many people ignore this but the sun and the light touching your face and skin will give you a nudge of motivation and inspiration. If you’re feeling stuck and in need of a little boost – whether it’s for working out, writing an essay, working on a project – give sunlight a chance. Simply getting outside when the weather is nice will help you want to be more active.
A study at The University of Edinburgh found that exposing skin to sunlight helps to reduce blood pressure and can cut the risk of stroke and heart attack. The UV rays upon our skin release a compound that significantly dropped blood pressure, while vitamin D levels stayed the same.
Evidence suggests that an adequate intake of vitamin D may prevent or delay the onset of diabetes, which is reaching epidemic proportions in the U.S. More than 29 million people have it. Sunlight may act as a prophylactic against either type of diabetes. Treatment with supplements is probably necessary for most people who already have the condition.
Research has found an association between decreased exposure to sunlight and increased probability of cognitive impairment using a novel data source. Photosensitive cells in the eye directly affect the brain’s hypothalamus region, which controls the body’s biological clock, which, in turn, controls just about every function in the body.
Let the sun caresses your skin, making it healthier by healing any wounds you may have. Sunlight triggers the synthesis of vitamin D within the body, which causes immune cells to travel to the outer layers of the skin and help repair damage such as that caused by sun exposure. The sun also helps heal acne and eczema.
Days are in many ways more adventurous than nights. Stay in the sun and plan your next endeavor. It is also no secret that the weather has a great impact on a person’s mood. Longer days make people feel happier, regardless of if it’s raining – as long as the sun hours are more than the sleep hours, according to research.
Research suggests that spending time in natural settings may boost creativity. High school students designed more innovative collages—as judged by six independent raters—in a setting high in direct sunlight and natural wood than in a space mainly finished with manufactured materials such as drywall and plastic.
Have you seen people typing on their laptops and talking on the phone at 2 p.m. in the afternoon in the park? They know that sunshine can be very helpful in making people more productive. This is because sunshine affects alertness. At the very least, the bright light keeps them awake. You feel more motivated to be done with work soon so you can enjoy the gorgeous weather.
Forget about makeup and all of the potentially harmful ingredients it has if you want to look like a normal person who actually has blood going through his or her veins. You may not tan right away but the sun will at least give your skin some hue. Why do you think so many people use tanning beds? (Which you should absolutely avoid as they can be extremely harmful to the skin.)
When skin is safely exposed to the sun, it can actually protect you from melanoma. A study found that indoor workers actually had an increase of melanoma because they were only exposed to UVA light. Indoor UV broke down the vitamin D3 that was formed in outdoor UVB exposure, which results in vitamin D deficiency.
Sunshine makes people happier and, therefore, much nicer. It’s hard to be gloomy, mean and whiny when, let’s say, the sun is out, you’re done with work, and meeting friends later.