Whilst we all know that spending too much time in the sun can cause issues such as skin cancer, sunburn and premature ageing, there are also many very important benefits of sun exposure.
Sunlight offers restorative, protective and healing effects, from bone and immune health to depression and seasonal affective disorders – sunlight can actually do you the world of good. It can even boost your mood enough to take more exercise and ultimately lose weight.
So what are the benefits of sunlight, and why should you be sensibly indulging in light therapy to reap the rewards, even if it’s 10-30 minutes a day?
Physical Health Benefits:
Do you feel better after having spent time outside? There’s a reason why sunlight brings a variety of different health benefits without us even realising it. Because of the amount of Vitamin D sunlight produces, it can support bone health, lower blood pressure, prevent disease, improve health conditions and promote good general health.
Strengthens Your Immune System
The sun’s UV rays help your body make and build up Vitamin D, which is really important for your bones, blood cells and immune system, to keep it as strong as possible to reduce the risk of illness, infection, cancers and mortality after surgery. The sunlight also helps you take in and use minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which will also do good for your body.
Lower Blood Pressure
It’s thought that when you become exposed to sunlight, it triggers the skin to release stores of nitrogen oxides, which cause arteries to dilate, lowering blood pressure. When your blood pressure is lower, it benefits your overall cardiovascular health.
When we don’t get enough Vitamin D it can affect bone health over time and can lead to adverse health conditions. Your bones can become very weak without Vitamin D, as it is an essential nutrient. Long-term deficiency can even contribute to issues like osteoporosis, so getting out into the sunlight could really benefit you long-term.
Mental Health Benefits:
As well as sunlight having a big impact on physical health, it also has a massive hand in boosting our mood, and our general mental wellbeing. A sunny day can do much more than boost your mood – it may increase levels of a natural antidepressant in the brain. Even during lockdowns, exercise and exposure to light were encouraged, showing just how effective light can be for your overall mental well-being.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you might not be getting enough time outdoors and therefore the innate benefits this offers. The human body creates a hormone called melatonin, which is critical to helping you sleep at night. Research indicates that getting exposure to an hour of natural light in the morning will help you sleep better as sunshine regulates your circadian rhythm by telling your body when to increase and decrease your melatonin levels.
So, ideally the more daylight exposure you can get, the easier your body will produce melatonin when it’s time to go to sleep.
There’s more to a quick breath of fresh air for stress levels than there might seem. Being outdoors will help your body naturally regulate melatonin, which can help to reduce your stress levels. Additionally, when you are outside you tend to be doing something active, whether that’s going for a walk, a run, or just playing outside, that extra exercise will also have a great effect on your mental wellbeing.
Fights off Depression
It’s not just a myth, there are scientific reasons behind why the sunshine improves our mood. Sunshine will boost your body’s serotonin levels, which is a chemical known to improve your general outlook and help you stay calm and focused. Increasing your exposure to the sunlight will also ease off symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). However, a change in mood can often happen during the winter months when there are fewer hours of daylight.
Adding Sunlight to Your Home
It is not always easy to find the time to get outside and simply be in the sunshine in order to reap the benefits. However, workloads get on top of us and the next thing you know it’s dark outside, or you’re doing jobs around the house and you’ve not even had time to step outside, so it’s not always as easy as we say it is.
When it comes to bringing natural light into your home, it isn’t just about the mental and physical benefits. Natural light in your home can lower your electric bill, is better for the environment, and can also make a room feel bigger. These quick little changes can also offer a lifetime of value for yours and your families mental and physical well-being.
If you’re struggling to find time in your day to get out into the sunshine, bringing natural sunlight into your home is the way to get around this issue. Remember, if you do venture out, make sure to use sun protection and heed any medical advice on offer.
Adding extra windows to your home can feel like a big change to make, but is one that can pay off in the long term. Chat to the expert team at Yard Direct who will be able to offer a range of window solutions to suit your home and your budget.
The Mental & Physical Health Benefits of Sunlight is a feature post