Don’t you just love when the very first rays of morning sunlight touch your skin? That warm, fuzzy feeling that gently awakens you from a deep slumber?
That's one of the many healing powers of the sun.
While it’s well-known that sunlight is an important source of photosynthesis for our green friends (plants), there are also plenty of health benefits for us, humans, too. In fact, there is a whole body of scientific research that shows that sun exposure in a moderate amount - with adequate protection - has amazing health benefits for your mind, body and soul! Here below we’ve listed the 3 most important ones.
1. Boosts your immune system and overall well-being
Too often we are told about the dangers of the sun, but not enough about the actual benefits. While sunburns and skin cancers should be avoided at all costs - and SPF is important- we should not overlook the amazing health benefits of the sun. After all, soaking in some rays of the sun may potentially increase your mood, strengthen your bones, promote healthy skin, improve your sleeping pattern, and even boost your immune system (more about that later).
In fact, the healing power of the sun and its medicinal use can be traced back to antiquity. Heliotherapy (also known as sun therapy), was used to “cure weak and flabby muscles” and increases muscle size. Heliotherapy was also used to treat cutaneous tuberculosis during the first half of the 20th century. And sunlight can be even be used to treat autoimmune diseases like psoriasis today. To this day, there is plenty of research that suggests sunlight overall health benefits. Vitamin D is even related to weight reduction and to lowering glucose levels and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, (plenty of sunny benefits if you ask us!).
1. Promotes heathy skin, bones, teeth and muscles
The best-known health benefit of the sun is producing Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps you regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body - aka the nutrients that keep your bones, teeth, skin, and muscles healthy. When UVB rays touches human skin, they interact with the 7-DHC protein, causing vitamin D3 to be produced. While you can get Vitamin D supplements, only very few foods like mushrooms and fatty fish actually contains vitamin D. Sunlight is very much still the biggest ‘supply’ of vitamin D. It even strengthens the skin’s natural complexion.
Did you know that the sun even stimulates hair growth? There is an ample body of research that indicates that sunlight stimulated vitamin D which in turn helps to create new hair follicles.
2. Improves your mood, mental health and sleeping pattern
There is a reason why people book a holiday to sun-filled tropical islands like Ibiza: it’s the relaxing feeling you get. The combination of sun, sea and good food, seems to be a winning combo for many people who are looking to escape from their own gloomy rainy countries - and who can blame them?
When your eyes detect the sunlight, it prompts the release of cortisol and serotonin (a chemical that boosts your mood, helps feel calm and helps you regulate your natural sleep-wake cycle and appetite). As night falls, serotonin is the chemical precursor to melatonin (a hormone that will help you feel sleepy). In short: sunlight helps people form better day and night cycles.
Research has also shown that moderate sun exposure can raise natural levels of antidepressants in the brain. This is especially shown in studies of people with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). SAD is a condition where people who normally have no mental health issues, exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year (especially during the gloomy winter months). Light therapy can alleviate those symptoms by sitting around a special lamp that mimics sunlight to trigger the brain to release a mood-lifting chemical called serotonin.
While some people may live in sunny places like Ibiza with an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, others don’t. In Rjukan, a town located in the mountains Norway, has no direct sunlight from September to March. In order to give local inhabitants some sunlight, the town installed solar-powered mirrors to capture the sun, so locals can feel re-energized for the day.
But like all things in life: it’s all about balance.
Sunshine simply is an all-natural way to enhance a healthier body-mind connection. It’s a great mood booster, helps people form better sleep cycles, helps people produce much-needed vitamin D and boosts their immune systems.
While sunshine has multiple benefits, it still needs to be taken in moderation. There is no one-rule-fits-all. While some people with light skin will burn within 5 minutes, others don’t. The way you metabolize sunlight is influenced by several factors including your genes, your skin type, the time and length of exposure, and how your system metabolizes sunlight. In any case, it’s about finding that healthy balance - a moderation that works for your skin, mood and overall health.