Why Sunlight Is So Good For You
You already know that our bodies need sun exposure to produce vitamin D.
This "sunshine vitamin" has been proven to be a vital link to maintaining good health.
And low levels of vitamin D have been associated with a host of health problems, like falls, poor bone health, low mood, and joint pain.
But it's not just vitamin D that your body produces when exposed to sunlight.
On sunny days, your brain produces more serotonin than on darker days.
This "feel good" hormone is associated with lifting mood and promoting feelings of calm and focus.
Research has also found that sun exposure stimulates your body to release nitric oxide, a molecule that tells your arteries to open up wider, which can have a positive impact on your blood pressure.
Increased blood flow also helps rev up energy levels, stimulates brain activity, and even warms your hands and feet.
Sun exposure also increases your white blood cell count. White blood cells play an important role in fortifying your immune system and helping to defend against unwanted invaders.
If you're having trouble sleeping, overproduction of melatonin during the day could be to blame. And that overproduction could be due to lack of sunlight exposure.
You see, when sunlight hits your eyes, your body sends a much-needed message to your brain that it's time to shut down melatonin production.
It's "awake time."
But if you spend your day inside, without feeling sunlight on your face, your brain never gets the message to stop producing melatonin, resulting in overproduction during the day, and lower production at night.
And low levels of melatonin production at night due to overproduction during the day has been linked to poor sleep quality, especially in older adults.
Clearly, our health benefits from time in the sun.
But even before the pandemic began, Americans were already spending too much time indoors.
And now that the virus is rapidly spreading from coast to coast, some of us are going days without feeling sunlight on our face.
That's not good.
There are ways to get direct sun exposure, without putting yourself at risk of the virus.
Spend some time in your garden. Go for daily walks around your neighborhood. Read a book on your patio.
But do it now.
Because now that we're a couple months past the Summer Solstice, we're losing precious minutes of daylight each day.
And before long, the darker days of fall and winter will be upon us.