Health Benefits of Sunlight: Why Sunlight is Used to Refer to the Good Things in Life

Sunlight on grass

When things go bad, how many times have you heard the cliche: There will be sunlight or sunshine after the storm?

It’s because sunlight represents what’s good, which is also due to the many benefits that it provides.

So what are the health benefits of sunlight?


Representing the Good


One of the first things written in the Bible is about how the world was once filled with darkness until God created light. Everything just got better from there.

But not all of us believe in God.

There is also that saying: Light at the end of the tunnel. It means the end of the hardship.

You see

Only good things are associated with light. Obviously, sunlight is the mother of lights.

But there is more to sunlight than just light.

Listen:

🎶 You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are gray. 🎶

This Johnny Cash song calls a loved one “sunshine” and that sunshine makes Johnny Cash happy.

Turns out

This song is backed by science. We will elaborate on that later…

Young woman on beach with wind-swept hair, close up, side view, head shot

Health Benefits of Sunlight


Helps produce vitamin D

Sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D. Getting exposed to sunlight is actually the best way to get vitamin D.

So

What can vitamin D do?

It is essential because it can keep your bones and teeth healthy and strong.

It can also protect a person from a wide variety of diseases including flu.

However

Some would say that vitamin D is not really a vitamin. Vitamins are supposed to be organic molecules that people take to help them with their metabolism.

Vitamins are supposed to be matter that people ingest. These are not things that people actually produce. 

That is not the case here

The body actually produces vitamin D with the help of sunlight. 

Aside from the benefits of having healthy bones and teeth with the help of vitamin D, this matter can also reduce a person’s risk of having the flu.

Great news for pregnant women:

Vitamin D helps women obtain a healthy pregnancy. 

A study suggests that vitamin D deficiency puts pregnant women at risk of preeclampsia

Increases release of serotonin

Remember we talked about the song “You are My Sunshine” as backed by science? 

Here goes!

Sunlight exposure bolsters the release of serotonin, which has been dubbed “happy chemical.”

Serotonin is a natural chemical produced by the nerve cells. It is also known as a mood stabilizer because it can help you with sleeping, regulate anxiety and possibly lessens depression as well. 

What you need

Expose yourself to direct sunlight every day. Ask your doctor how long of an exposure would be appropriate for you.

There is an appropriate length of time for sun exposure based on skin tone. 

Lighter-skinned individuals cannot stay for long under the sun without protection. They should limit sun exposure to less than 20 minutes or so.

For darker-skinned individuals, they could stay for longer than 30 minutes but less than an hour.

However

If you intend to spend more time under the sun because you are hanging out at the beach or so, just wear sunscreen, a hat and shades. 

Two happy people jumping

Helps treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

When the nights become longer and the days are shorter, some people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, which aptly takes the acronym SAD. 

This usually happens during colder months.

Let me elaborate

During the fall and winter months, the nights are longer.

This causes people to be more sluggish and they experience a form of depression. It is called SAD because it is mostly tied to the season.

The depression is bound to end when the warmer season comes around.

Although

SAD may also happen during the warmer season, but it is quite rare. 

Now back to the original point

How does sunlight help people with SAD?

The depression is triggered by the lack of sunlight–in general. So however short sunlight is during the cold season, one should take advantage of it. 

A little sun exposure can do wonders to one’s mood and can help alleviate SAD. 

Stress relief

Sunlight can also help you with stress. 

Picture this:

You are swamped with work and it feels like you can’t take it anymore. So you go outside and take a breath of fresh air.

Well, air is infinitely fresher when the sun is also out. 

In a way

Going outside for fresh air also means exposing yourself to a bit of sunlight. 

Other ways:

You may also maximize the benefit of fresh air complemented with sun exposure by doing things that can help you feel better:

  • Going for a run.
  • Walking around.
  • Walking the dog.
  • Exercising outside. 
  • Reading outside.
Walking the dog

Too Much of Anything is Bad…


While sunlight exposure provides a lot of benefits, you have to remember that too much of anything is bad for you.

Here are some of the ill effects of sun exposure–some due to too much sun exposure:

Heat exhaustion

Usually, when there are heat waves or the humidity is extremely high, there is a risk for anyone to have heat stroke.

But for regular days, people who are exposed to the sun for long periods of time could experience heat exhaustion. The issue is not sun exposure per se, but the loss of water due to perspiration.

So if you have to work outside and be exposed to the sun, you have to protect yourself with sunscreen, long sleeves, sunglasses and a hat–if at all possible. And then you have to regularly drink water to replenish what you have sweated off. 

Symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Profusely sweating
  • Heavy thirst
  • Rise in body temperature
  • Irritability

Heat stroke

We mentioned earlier about natural circumstances that could lead to heat stroke. Here is another thing: If you leave heat exhaustion untreated, it could lead to heat stroke. 

This is a serious disease as it could lead to death. 

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Feeling of confusion
  • Slurred or incoherent speech
  • Seizure

Sunburn

This is probably the most common ill effect of too much sun exposure. Basically, after a long exposure, your skin will become red. 

Not only that, you will feel pain. When somebody touches you or when your red skin touches something, you feel like it’s burning. 

After a few days, you will then experience some peeling off of the sunburnt skin. 

Lady with sunburn

Heat rash

This is a rash that appears on the skin because of too much heat. Scientifically speaking, this is due to the perspiration that fails to be released because it was trapped in the sweat ducts. 

Damage to the eyes

You should not look directly at the sun. If you really have to, do it with sunglasses on. 

Long-term exposure to ultraviolet light can damage your retina. 

Skin cancer

This is probably the worst damage one may get from too much sun exposure. 

Skin cancer isn’t an immediate consequence to sun exposure. It is sort of a cumulative one. 

The cancer develops over years of sun exposure. 


Summary


There is no doubt about it, there are many health benefits to sunlight. The health benefits are not just physical but mental and emotional as well. 

There are also a lot of disadvantages to sun exposure–in fact, there seems to be more disadvantages than advantages. But what you have to realize is that the disadvantages are a result of too much exposure to the sun.

That means that while you need sunlight, you have to limit your exposure in order to prevent dire consequences.


You Might Also Like…


Since we discussed seasonal affective disorder or SAD, you might want to know more about it. Check out this blog.

After reading that, you might want to know about SAD treatments.

And since one of the treatments mentioned is the use of SAD lamps, you might be interested in our list of the best SAD lamps this year. 


Useful Resources


  • What are the Benefits of Sunlight? – Healthline
  • 13 Ways the Sun Affects your Body: The Good & the Bad – Live Well
  • Benefits of Modern Sun Exposure – Harvard Health

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