We all know that excessive sun exposure is bad for us. But exposing ourselves to just the right amount of sunshine is good for our bodies, our health and out mental well-being. In this article, we’ll answer the question, “Does sunshine have health benefits?”
For the most part, some people take in the right amount of sun needed. With work, home, and errands - most of us spend the majority of our day indoors. One thing to remember is that sunshine kills bacteria. Our indoor environment inevitably gathers dust from outdoors and if you let some sunshine in through your windows and expose the dust, this may improve air quality in your home. Studies have shown that sunlight exposure to dust killed bacteria and only 6% of the bacteria in dust survived. Whereas 12% of the bacteria survived in a dark room. Consider letting some sunshine in and expose those pesky germs to UV rays.
High blood pressure has been linked to many diseases – and we’re continually looking for ways to reduce our stress to help lower our blood pressure. Some of the diseases are kidney damage, heart attack and stroke. Research has shown that people with kidney failure and on dialysis have lowered systolic blood pressure when exposed to sunlight.
Researchers believe this is due to UV light, which increases the body’s nitric oxide. Your body’s blood pressure is lowered due to the molecule (nitric oxide) present in your body that causes your blood vessels to widen.
More research is needed to understand the process of the sun’s effect on the body and blood pressure. Research is also needed to determine whether sunlight will have the same effect on healthy people.
Sunlight is also known to help our immune system. Exposing ourselves to sunlight helps our body to produce vitamin D from the cholesterol in our bodies. Vitamin D is known to have many rewards. Vitamin D production in our bodies helps to regulate our immune system, which in turn helps to fight off infections. Who doesn’t love that?
Another benefit of sunshine is stronger bones. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which is a needed supplement for bone health. More calcium in your bones helps to prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis. Bone fractures can be prevented with good bone health.
Sunlight also improves your sleep quality. Exposing your body to the sun will play a crucial role in your body maintaining its internal clock from evening to morning. Called the circadian rhythm, your body’s rhythm responds to sunlight when waking up in the morning and darkness when falling asleep in the evening.
Sunlight increases your melatonin levels. Melatonin is a key player in regulating your body’s circadian rhythm, which is why experts recommend getting sunlight in the morning to help you fall asleep easier at night.
Soaking in some sunlight can help you to beat certain mood disorders. One main disorder is (SAD) seasonal affective disorder, which is a type of depression that occurs in gloomier months, typically fall and winter – when we experience less sunlight.
Much isn’t known on what exactly causes SAD, it is believed that a lack of sunlight could be affecting the way the brain’s hypothalamus works. Which can be made harder since your circadian rhythm is out of sync and is unable to time when you should wake up and fall asleep. You are more likely to experience SAD, due to your out of sync circadian rhythm. Lower serotonin levels are also experienced with less sunlight, which also contributes to depression. A boost of sunshine will boost your serotonin levels and your mood.
Now after reading all this, you’re wondering – how much sunlight per day should I be exposed to? And the answer to that will vary depending on the melanin in your skin.
If you are fair skinned, it is recommended to get 10-15 minutes of sunlight daily. While people with darker skin are recommended to be exposed to sunlight for 25-40 minutes daily.
People with darker skin have a higher melanin in their skin, which means they have better protection from damaging sun rays. Higher melanin, our body’s natural sunscreen, will also require a person to expose themselves longer to the sun to gain any benefit.
While sunbathing, you must remember that sun exposure, no matter the skin color, will still require sunscreen to protect from sunburn or skin cancer. It is wise to spend no more than the allotted time in the sun – and sunscreen should be applied especially if your time will be longer than the allotted 10-30 minutes.
While sunscreen offers us protection from sunburn and skin cancer, it does not prevent or hurt our body from creating Vitamin D.
The importance of sunlight for humans is vast. And we should all find ways to spend time outdoors to gain benefits. Below are some tips on how to fit outdoor time into your schedule.
According to research studies, the best time to absorb sunlight is around noon. But don’t let that stop you from spending time outdoors earlier or later in the day.