Healing Benefits of Sunshine On Mental Health| Sources of Vitamin D
The lack of sunlight in the chillier months isn’t great. We understand when it’s dark and gloomy, it becomes harder to feel awake and lively during the day. That’s why winters can be especially tough: we have to make sure that we don’t end up burrito ourselves in a warm, fuzzy blanket and stay there all day!
In winters, every single day has the same, miserable forecast- wet, cold, and dark. But when we see the sun peeking out from behind the clouds, it feels like our life depends on it to soak some up.
It becomes seriously challenging because it is this sunshine which is crucial for our health and wellbeing.
There are plenty of reasons why getting sunlight is a must. Here are the reasons:
It Strengthens Our Bones
Direct sunlight on our skin creates Vitamin D in our bodies. Exposure to the ultraviolet B radiation in the rays of the sun causes our skin to form Vitamin D which plays a significant role in bone health.
There is plenty of sunlight to go around the rest of the year, but we are still not getting enough as suggested in a study conducted by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition.
Without this vital nutrient in our body, we are more prone to falls, breakages, and muscle weaknesses. Vitamin D encourages the absorption of bone-building calcium and phosphorus whereas the lack of this essential nutrient is the cause of rickets in children and bone diseases like osteoporosis and osteomalacia.
The good news is that just 10 minutes of sun exposure, once or twice a day is sufficient to make our bones strong.
It Prevents Disease
The deficiency of Vitamin D is associated with an increase in the risk of Dementia in older people. It affects the functioning of the brain which may lead to the loss of memory, increase in confusions, changes in personality or behaviour and even the loss of ability to do everyday tasks.
Remember, getting out in the sun rays for just 10 to 15 minutes is enough to boost Vitamin D levels.
According to a study by Georgetown University, the rays of the sun increase the movement of T cells in our skin which help keep our immune system healthy. It does a lot of good in our overall health. Dr. Frank Lipman writes:
“ Vitamin D synthesises in the skin which enables the body to tame inflammation and boost immunity…It also plays a key role in preventing a number of cancers, including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, skin, prostate, and colon.”
It Slows the Development of Obesity
Research at Edinburgh and Southampton Universities came up with a useful finding that exposure to UV rays helps release nitric oxide. It is a protein which slows down the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Just 20 to 30 minutes of early morning sunrays can help lower body fat.
Recent studies also suggest that exercising outside in the winters is a great way to lose weight because sunlight shrinks fat cells. It helps balance insulin and glucose levels naturally which result in weight loss.
The real danger to our heart is visceral fat, which accumulates around primary organs and the midsection. Deficiency of Vitamin D in our body leads to an increase in visceral abdominal fat thus endangering our lives.
Not getting sufficient sunlight especially between 8 am and noon can desynchronise our internal body clock and can lead to weight gain.
It Improves Sleep
Nowadays we set regular bedtimes and pop up various sleep supplements for ensuring a positive sleep environment. But, the first hour in the morning is sufficient to make and break our sound sleep at the end of the day. The warmth of sunshine in the morning soak up the warming infrared rays and help regulate our sleep cycles.
Exposure to bright sunlight in the morning also regulates our melatonin and serotonin levels for a deep restorative sleep. Morning sun increases the production of serotonin in our body that help enhance our mood throughout the day. Whereas, melatonin is essential for a deep sleep which after the 12 hours of duration is converted from serotonin and thus helping us sleep better that night.
It’s better to catch some morning rays if struggling to sleep well at night. It is less intense in the morning and has less risk of adverse effects.
It Improves Energy Levels
Sunlight boosts our mood but also improves our energy levels. It is opposite to how we feel on those sleepy dark and gloomy days. Hormone expert Anna Cabeca says:
“When your eyes detect light, that tells your brain to wake up and release the cortisol you need to increase your metabolism and get through your day.”
As mentioned above, waking up by the sun’s natural light switches off melatonin that helps stimulate sleep. It improves our energy and mood without the “fight or flight stress” of our alarm clock. Now we know the trouble of staying awake at work in the winter.
A Word of Caution-
Sunbathing irresponsibly for hours is unquestionably harmful and potentially lethal. Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays is also the primary cause of skin cancer. Always use a sunscreen with at least SPF 15 regularly before exposure to the sun rays. Adding a little sunshine to your life can boost your mood and reduce depression.