Oftentimes the sun gets a bit of a bad rap. People’s fear of skin cancer is increasing, and sunscreen claims are getting more ridiculous (I’m looking at you, SPF 90, you’re actually not any better). While it’s important to be safe in the sun, it’s light should not be eliminated or blocked out completely by sunscreen or clothing. There are many reasons to get some sunlight exposure. Now, in the springtime, is the best time to begin and gradually increase exposure while the rays are coming through our atmosphere at an increased angle and thus weaker. Here are four benefits of sunlight.
1. Vitamin D Production
This is the most well known reason to get some sun. Vitamin D is vital to our body tissues’ ability to function, and it’s produced through our skins exposure to the UV rays (which means wearing sunscreen doesn’t allow this to happen). Vitamin D has also been shown to prevent cancer, increase growth in children, promote bone health in adults, and work against Seasonal Affective Disorder.
2. Better Sleep
Sunlight hitting our eyes and eyelids is a signal to our brains regarding sleep-wake cycles. Natural daylight in the morning and throughout the day keeps this rhythm going smoothly. Melatonin secretions are decreased when we get sun on our face in the daytime, which helps keep melatonin levels from getting low. Then production will increase again when the sun goes down and we need it to facilitate a restful sleep at night.
3. Clear Skin
Sunlight is beneficial for those with many different skin disorders. One study showed it has a positive effect in treating psoriasis. Fungal infections, eczema, and acne may be alleviated through sun exposure as well. Sunlight also kills bad bacteria which may be present on the skin.
4. Heightened Mood
I’ve written before about my use of a happy light in the winter to improve my mood, but the sun itself is even better. Studies have shown that serotonin, which is a natural antidepressant, production is directly related to duration of bright sunlight. Vitamin D comes into play here as well with mood, and you can actually stock up to some degree in the sunny months to help get through the winter.
As I said before, remember to begin slowly with sun exposure, especially if your skin is not used to it. Now get outside, and soak up some rays. That’s what I’m about to do.
Which benefits would you like to receive? Do you use sunscreen?