The Many Benefits of Sunlight

The Many Benefits of Sunlight

Sunshine is a mixed blessing. There is no question that ultraviolet rays from the sun can be harmful; however, time spent outdoors can provide us with many benefits. One of the most important is exposure to sunlight. Having sunlight on your arms and face can be VERY beneficial to your body and mind. So let’s take a look at how sunlight can benefit you.

1. Improve your sleep

One critical component in your ability to sleep is the body producing melatonin. The production of melatonin starts when it’s dark. This is why you start to feel sleepy after the sun sets. This is also why we tend to stay up later in the summer. Sunshine regulates your circadian rhythm and tells the body when to increase and decrease melatonin. The more sunlight your body is exposed to, the better it will produce melatonin and the better you will sleep.

2. Reduce stress

The improved production of melatonin not only helps your sleep cycle but also helps reduce stress. In addition, because being outdoors usually means doing something active you enjoy (like walking, hiking, etc.), exercise helps lower stress.

3. Maintains strong bones

A critical nutrient for our bodies is Vitamin D. It helps maintain calcium and prevents brittle and thin bones. One of the best ways to get Vitamin D is by being outside. As little as 10 minutes of sunlight exposure is enough to jumpstart your body’s Vitamin D production.

4. Strengthen the immune system

Speaking of Vitamin D, it is also critical to a strong immune system. If you have consistent exposure to sunlight, your body’s ability to fight off illness will improve. A healthy immune system not only helps combat illness but it also wards off infection and some cancers. Ten-minute exposure to direct sunlight can produce around 5,000 IU of vitamin D, which is enough for most people.

5. Keep weight off

If you are interested in weight loss, getting outside between 8am and noon can be beneficial. There have been some linkages made between early morning sunlight and weight loss.

6. Fight off depression

There are proven scientific reasons sunlight helps your mood. It’s not simply in your imagination. Sunshine boosts the body’s levels of serotonin. This chemical improves your mind and keeps you calm and focused. But, have you ever noticed during the shortened days of fall and winter, your mood seems less chipper? This is called seasonal defective disorder – a change in mood that occurs during the fall and winter.

7. Longer life

Believe it or not, sunlight can help you live longer. A Journal of Internal Medicine study of 30,000 Swedish women over twenty years showed that those who spent more time outdoors in the sun lived from six months to two years longer than those with less sun exposure. More research needs to be conducted in this area to prove it, but it is something scientists continue to study.

The benefits of sunlight are numerous but always take care not to get too much UV exposure. Using sunscreen will help, but you may need to increase your exposure to reap the benefits of sunlight. If you’re interested in a holistic health regimen and its many benefits, contact me to start your healing journey.