In today’s world, individuals spend more time indoors at home, at the mall, at the clubhouse, etc. than before. Whether it’s due to the long working hours, the rise of technology and indoor entertainment, like video games and watching movies, or concerns about sun exposure and skin cancer risks, our body’s exposure to the sun has significantly changed. However, studies have shown that spending more time outdoors and exposing ourselves to the sun can have various positive impacts on our overall health and wellness.

We will try to explore the numerous ways in which sunlight exploits our physical and mental well-being. From enhancing the levels of vitamin D to boosting your mood and the quality of one’s sleep, let’s uncover the significance of incorporating some sunshine into our day-to-day routine.

Sunlight promotes vitamin D production

Sunlight is a naturally occurring source of vitamin D, a vital nutrient that plays a number of important roles in retaining good health. When exposed to UV rays from sunlight, a chemical reaction takes place in our skin cells, evolving in the production of vitamin D3, which is also known as cholecalciferol.

Vitamin D assists in regulating calcium absorption and stimulates bone growth, making it a necessity for retaining strong and healthy bones and staying away from osteoporosis. It also helps the immune system function by stimulating antimicrobial proteins that help in dropping off infections. Furthermore, investigation also suggests that appropriate levels of vitamin D is important as it may lessen the risk of chronic illnesses such as cardiac diseases and certain types of cancer.

It is suggested by professionals to take some time from your busy schedule during peak hours and give your skin exposure to the sunlight when UVB radiation is the highest, mostly between 10am and 3pm, to seek benefits from sunlight without building the risk of skin cancer or premature ageing. If at all you plan on staying outside for a longer time period during those times or if you are residing in places like Alaska or Northern Europe, which are places with low UV radiation year-round, then using sun protection methods like wearing caps, cloth coverings, or other screen care products after mild exposure is necessary.

Increase in serotonin levels

Our brain chemistry is also affected due to exposure to the sun, especially by raising the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is often referred to as the “happy hormone.” With more than 90% of the serotonin produced in our gut and the intestinal lining of our whole body, it might come as a surprise that the sun plays an important role in its production.

Serotonin helps regulate mood, appetite, and digestion. Low levels have been linked to depression, anxiety, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of seasonal depression triggered by reduced daylight hours during the colder months. Research has shown that increased sunlight exposure can alleviate symptoms of SAD, including irritability, fatigue, and sleep disturbance.

The serotonin in our body helps to influence mood, appetite, and digestion. Anxiety, depression, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a kind of seasonal depression caused by fewer daylight hours in the winter, are all associated with lower levels of serotonin. Studies have also shown that too much exposure to sunlight can also decrease the symptoms of SAD, including irritability, fatigue, and sleep disturbance.

Promote Better Sleep Quality

The internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, regulates a number of bodily functions, including sleeping habits. It is highly dependent on natural light cues from the surroundings when determining the wakefulness and resting time of an individual, thus making regular exposure to sunlight important for maintaining healthy sleep and wake cycles.

Sunrays inhibit the release of melatonin (the “sleep hormone”), which keeps us alert during daytime hours but increases in the evening, helping to make bedtime convenient both physically & psychologically. Going for morning walks daily upon waking up can not only boost your energy levels but also make sure your body stays synced with the intrinsic day/night pattern, resulting in better quality deep REM stages along with other benefits.

The suprachiasmatic nucleus, also known as the SCN, uses the knowledge gained from the sunlight to determine the release of melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel drowsy and ready for sleep. But, with the increase in indoor lifestyles, many people are not getting adequate exposure to sunlight, resulting in disruptions in the circadian rhythm and poor sleep quality. Various bodily functions, including sleep-wake cycles, hormone production, and digestion, are regulated by our circadian rhythm.

Reduces stress levels

Most people find staying outdoors peaceful and revitalizing after days of being caught up indoors amidst artificial lighting, fluorescent blue screens, etc. Sunlight fosters endorphin production, which is a natural painkiller whose name originates from their morphine-like ability to produce feelings of contentment and happiness as well as reducing perceived discomfort, hunger, stress, and inflammation. One’s exposure to the sun is necessary for enhancing immunity, but it also has an impact on sleep quality and circadian rhythm. Better sleep is experienced when, in sync with the natural light and dark cycles, we also feel energetic throughout the day.

Apparently, studies show the natural environment enhances cognitive functioning, productivity, ease of mind, and relaxation while reducing tension and disbelief. Aggression images versus others accented under fluorescent lighting have almost the opposite sensation. Exposure to sunlight can also raise the levels of nitric oxide in the body, which helps release blood vessels and enhance circulation, resulting in a sense of peacefulness.

Boosts immunity

We sleep more effectively, and our internal clocks adjust in the morning after we are exposed to sunlight. Exposure to sunlight also encourages the synthesis of vitamin D, which plays a part in the regulation of sleep. Insufficient amounts of vitamin D have been linked to inadequate sleep. Being exposed to sunlight is also related to better morale and overall health.

Sunlight and outdoor activities might alleviate symptoms of sadness while improving the quality of sleep. Try to spend a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour outside every day, preferably in the mornings or around noon, when direct sunlight is most helpful, to ensure that you are getting enough sun exposure. Consider employing light treatment machinery that mimics sunshine if it isn’t easily available. In brief, sunlight plays a crucial role in regulating the circadian cycle and the quantity of sleep.

Improves skin conditions

Contrary to widespread belief, dermatological conditions, which include eczema, psoriasis, and acne, may benefit from mild sun exposure. This is so because UVB rays decrease the inflammation that frequently contributes to these diseases.

Additionally, using sunscreen decreases vitamin D3 absorption by approximately one third as compared to not putting on any.

Our circadian rhythm and the quality of our sleep are significantly affected by sunlight. Our internal clocks might be knocked off once we spend the day in the shade, this can result in bad quality sleep. Melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy and prepared for sleep, is released in response to sunlight, which contributes to controlling our sleep-wake cycles. Additionally, it contributes to maintaining our circadian rhythm in harmony with the daylight-dark cycle, which improves the quality of our sleep and increases our alertness throughout the day.