The 5 Ways Sunlight Improves Your Mental and Physical Wellbeing
Now's a great time to assess the health benefits that sun exposure can have on our bodies. Other than simply feeling nice on our skin and allowing us to enjoy the outdoors, spending even just a few minutes under the sun each day has immense benefits for both our mental and physical wellbeing, from vitamin D to our circadian rhythm.
So, grab a hat and some sunscreen—because you can and must be vigilant about sunburn—and then get outside in the sunshine! Here are 5 ways that sunlight can improve your mental and physical wellbeing.
One of the most important benefits of daily sun exposure is improved sleep, which is essential for us to perform at our best. Higher levels of melatonin (the sleep hormone) are produced at night after you've been exposed to bright sunshine throughout the day, making it easier to fall asleep. Healthy production of melatonin is important in other ways such a lowering stress reactivity and synchronising your biological clock, according to physician and author, Dr. Mithu Storoni.
Whether or not you've realised it, spending time outdoors and under the sun naturally enhances your mood. This is because serotonin levels are boosted in the body after exposure to the sun. Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer at Cleveland Clinic also points out that sunlight can decrease the risk of depression in those at risk of seasonal affective disorder which generally occurs in winter when days are darker and light is limited.
As little as fifteen minutes of sunlight can be enough to soak in adequate levels of vitamin D needed to produce strong, healthy bones. In fact, vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin" because sunshine is our primary way of receiving it. To get the most benefit from your sun exposure, make sure your hands and face are in the sun as well, but remember to apply a high SPF sunscreen for longer periods outdoors.
Lower blood pressure
Research conducted by the University of Edinburgh has found that moderate exposure to the sun's UV rays is enough to significantly drop blood pressure levels. Around one in five Australians have high blood pressure, so this is a simple treatment to reduce the likelihood of developing it yourself. Low blood pressure levels also reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Strong immune system
Not only can adequate amounts of sun exposure build up internal levels of all-important vitamin D, Dr. Roizen believes that by getting outside each day you have a better chance at strengthening your immune system as well, which decreases the risk of developing infections and some diseases.
While sunlight clearly has some amazing benefits for our health and wellbeing, it's always important to be sun safe and to monitor the amount of direct UV rays you're receiving. If you're outside for more than a few minutes, make sure to wear a hat and reapply sunscreen regularly to avoid burns and adverse long term issues.