A previous post discussed the harmful effects exposure to sunlight has on your skin, but there are also many positive effects of the sun.
1. Sunlight improves our mood – You will notice that more people are out, with smiles on their faces as the sun stimulates the brain to produce tryptamines that improve our mood.
2. Sunlight helps you make Vitamin D – Spending just 10 – 20 minutes a day in the sun enables us to produce Vitamin D, important for several reasons including strengthen bones, muscles and our immune system. Vitamin D may also lower the risk of certain cancers such as colon cancer. Low levels of Vitamin D can cause diseases such as osteoporosis and rickets in children.
3. Sunlight can improve your sleep – Sunlight that hits our eyes helps to reset our biological clocks thus improving quality of our sleep. In the morning, cortisol, a key steroid hormone for normal health, is at highest, and exposure to bright light in the morning can help regulate its levels. During the day, we release serotonin, a hormone required for calming and focusing the mind. And at night, our bodies are triggered into releasing melatonin to help us go to sleep.
Low levels of serotonin, such as when there is a decrease in sun exposure, can lead to a higher risks of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), common through the winter months when the days are shorter and the nights longer. Patients with SAD are treated with phototherapy in the form of a special light box to stimulate the brain to make more serotonin and less melatonin.
4. Sunlight can treat skin conditions – Gradual exposure to sunlight can also be used to treat various conditions such as psoriasis jaundice, eczema, and acne, however, the benefits of this form of therapy will vary from person to person.
5. Sunlight can act as a natural disinfectant – As UV rays can damage our cells, they can also damage bacteria and other microorganisms. UV lamps are regularly used to disinfect and sterilise instruments.
Being out and enjoying the sunlight has many positive effects including boasting your mood, reducing depression, strengthening our bones and treating certain skin conditions. So when the sun is out, enjoy the benefits.