From my own personal experience, I know just how impactful sunshine is not only for my health, but also my mood! We get our fair share of grey, cloudy days in Chicago, and on those days, I always have a harder time staying focused, alert and motivated, and if it goes on for too long, I just start feeling bummed out.
Know the feeling?
On those gorgeous sunny days though? As that sun is hitting your skin, you just feel better!
Personally, sunny day make me feel like a new woman. I make healthier choices, am more active, more productive, happier and generally sleep better too. While it might seem like it’s all mental, sunshine and vitamin D play a very very important in our health too.
What’s even crazier is that a huge percentage of Americans are actually deficient in vitamin D. While you can take a supplement, getting it from the real source is better.
Right now, it seems like there’s a trend to stay out of the sun. Yes, too much exposure can be bad, but not enough is detrimental as well. It’s a balance (like most things when it comes to health!). I fully support wearing SPF, especially on your face (I wear this one or this one every single day), but I also know that getting that precious vitamin D is essential to keeping my body functioning at its best.
10 Benefits Of Sunshine For Your Health
The benefits of sun exposure are wide and so powerful! You probably already know that sunshine can positively impact your mood, but did you know that it can do so much more for our long-term health as well? Read on to learn more about the health benefits of sunshine.
This is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice, obviously I am not a doctor, so if you have any concerns, please check with your doctor.
1. Vitamin D Production
When sunlight hits our skin, vitamin D is made from cholesterol in our skin, according to this article. UVB rays provide the energy that triggers the synthesis of this vital vitamin in our bodies.
You can take a vitamin D supplement, but very few foods are rich in vitamin D, so getting your dose from the sun is your best bet for keeping your levels of vitamin D optimal.
2. Improves Sleep
I struggled with sleep quality a lot after Owen was born, even after he was sleeping, and sun exposure was a huge help in getting my circadian rhythm balanced again.
Our bodies produce different hormones in reaction to light and darkness. Sunlight triggers our bodies to produce serotonin which helps boost your mood, while darkness triggers melatonin which makes us sleepy and thus fall asleep. When you don’t have enough sun exposure, this hormone balance can get thrown off.
3. Boosts Immunity
Wonder why you get sick less in summer than in winter? Turns out sunshine plays a part. Sunshine stimulates vitamin D and T cells which give your immune system a major boost according to this article.
According to this article, autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis have been linked to a vitamin D deficiency. They also noticed that as you got further away from the equator, the number of autoimmune disorders went up.
RELATED: How to Boost Your Immune System
4. Boost your Mood, Memory & Focus
I mentioned this earlier, but sunlight triggers our bodies to produce serotonin, a hormone that boosts your mood. I’m sure you have noticed this on sunny days too—you simply feel happier!
I swear, my brain just does not function as well on grey, cloudy days. Sometimes I even feel sluggish and foggy. Because sunshine helps create more vitamin D and serotonin in our bodies, we’re able to get better, more restful sleep quality that can lead to better focus and memory during the day.
5. Strengthens Bones
Vitamin D is essential for bone health. Without it, our bodies cannot absorb calcium, and without calcium, our bones are weakened. Yet, another reason to get your regular dose of sunshine.
6. Lowers Risk of Cancer
While too much sunlight and UV radiation can contribute to skin cancer, just enough sun can positively impact other types of cancers. It can reduce your risk of certain types of cancer and increase survival rates as well according to this article.
7. Fights Depression
When you don’t get enough sunlight, your serotonin levels can drop which can lead to depression. This is even more common in the winter when we don’t get as much sunlight and can lead to Seasonal Affect Disorder. I personally notice this big time in the winter.
8. Heals Skin Conditions
Sunlight could actually help skin issues likes eczema, psoriasis, jaundice and even acne by bringing immune cells closer to the surface. Of course, if you’re exposing your face, be careful to limit your exposure!
9. Lower Blood Pressure
This article states that over 100 million Americans have high blood pressure, but what if one of the best cures is simply getting more sunshine? Exposure to sunlight can actually lower your blood pressure and lower your risk for heart attack and stroke according to this study.
10. Helps You Lose Weight
In this study, researchers discovered that regular sun exposure the blue light hits fat cells, it doesn’t allow for cells to store as much fat. It goes onto explain why winter weight gain is more common, and you guessed it—it’s linked to the sun.
Tips To Healthy Sun Exposure
Limit Your Sun Exposure
When you’re wearing clothing and SPF, your body isn’t able to make vitamin D. That’s why staying completely out of the sun can actually be bad for your health. Aim for 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure several times a week. Depending on your skin type, you may be able to stay out in the sun longer—lighter skin types don’t need as much sun as darker skin types.
Instead of going out during peak sunlight hours, aim to go out in the mid-morning when rays aren’t as strong.
In recent years, researchers have learned that certain ingredients in SPF are actually harmful to our bodies and very harmful to coral reefs. Beaches around the world have banned sunscreens containing the ingredient oxybenzone because it’s killing the natural habits of fish, and underwater creatures.
Opt for a mineral sunscreen, and make sure you’re applying sunscreen every 2 hours when you plan on being in the sun for extended periods of time, especially if you’ll be swimming or sweating.
Keep your Face Covered
I’m all about protecting the skin on your face no matter what—mostly because I didn’t do this when I was in high school and college and I now have dark spots to thank for it. I always keep my face covered, but will let me legs, arms and sometimes my stomach be exposed to absorb those beneficial rays.
Sun Exposure App
Download an app to figure out how much sun exposure you need based on the UV index of where you live. It takes into consideration how strong the sun is in your location and how much sunlight you need to get your daily dose of vitamin D.
Do you notice an impact on your health when you spend more time in the sun?