As much as we need protection from the sun, sunlight is also essential to our well-being. Let’s look at all the benefits of being in the sun.
It all starts with vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin. When you’re in the sun ultraviolet (UV) rays, specifically UVB rays, interact with the skin to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which promotes bone health.
Vitamin D also helps reduce inflammation and supports the immune system. Having a healthy immune system lowers your risk of infection, illness and some cancers, and helps you to recover quickly from wounds and sickness.
Another benefit of being in the sun is improved sleep. Exposure to sunlight helps balance your circadian rhythm (your 24-hour internal clock) by regulating melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that your body produces to make you sleepy when it's dark. Getting an adequate amount of sunlight during the day will help your body effectively produce melatonin at night. This will help improve your sleep schedule and your overall quality of sleep.
Additionally, being in the sun improves your mood. Exposure to the sun’s UVB rays raises serotonin levels, which is the neurotransmitter that helps boost your mood and focus. Getting sunlight can ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression that is caused by the changing of seasons. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, a likely cause of SAD is the lack of sunlight brought about by shorter days in the winter and fall.
To experience all the benefits of sunlight, aim to be out in the sun for at least 10-30 minutes each day. As always though, don’t forget to wear sunscreen!