- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
The Benefits of Sunshine
Keeping Safe in the Sun
Staying out when the sun is at its strongest has risks connected. We need to be careful not to get sunburned as it damages skin and may lead to skin cancer. The heat can make us dehydrated and we could be prone to heat stroke.
If we are sensible and keep in the shade for long periods of time, use a high factor sun screen and drink plenty of water, we’re less likely to become unwell. But keeping out of the sunshine and indeed sunlight altogether means we’re not getting all the benefits it poses.
What are the Health Benefits?
We can gain some health benefits from the sun if we spend short periods of time out in it. In the winter months (in the northern hemisphere) the sun is not as strong so we can spend a little more time out.
Great Britain is in the Northern Hemisphere
Sunshine makes Vitamin D
The ultra violet rays (UVB) from the sun helps the body to produce vitamin D. If we spend around 10–15 minutes out in the midday sun (be careful not to get burned) it can be enough. Those with lighter skin tones absorb and produce quicker than darker skin tones, so lighter skin tones need less time out.
The body can store vitamin D for several months, which is good if we see little light during the winter months.
Why is Vitamin D Good for Us?
Vitamin D has many benefits including building strong bones. It can also help our immune system and help against the development of some cancers.
It can be difficult to find vitamin D in food, which is why a vitamin supplement is good if we don’t get out in the sunshine.
Sunshine Helps the Scalp
The ultra violet rays can help to clear the symptoms of psoriasis. The sunlight slows down the speed of cell division and improves the condition. Those who suffer with psoriasis are sometimes offered ultra violet light treatment, which works in the same way.
If you do go out in the sun, put sunscreen on the scalp as it is sensitive to the sun.
The Sun can kill Bacteria
Ultraviolet rays can act as an antiseptic on the skin. This means it can kill viruses and fungi. It is great for athlete’s foot and small doses of sunshine can help the symptoms of acne and eczema.
Sunshine can help the immune system and help fight viruses on the inside too.
Sunny Days make us Happier
Our mood can be lifted on a sunny day. While grey clouds and rain make us tired and miserable, the sun can make us feel more alert and uplifted. Too much time in the heat may however want you to take a siesta, but the endorphins and serotonin we produce make us a lot less stressed.
Being less stressed can also help with the other conditions mentioned, such as acne or eczema flare ups.
Sunlight helps our Sleep Pattern
The sunshine can help our circadian rhythm, which means we can fall asleep easier at night and wake early in the morning.
If we can get enough sunshine in the morning, by evening the melatonin levels in our bodies will be released and aid sleep.
SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder and is a condition which can cause symptoms of depression. It is triggered by lack of natural sunlight and sufferers tend to feel worse during the winter months.
Otherwise known as the Winter Blues, SAD is a recognised disorder and can be diagnosed.
The symptoms of SAD include:
- Disruption of Sleep
- Changes in Appetite
- Mood Swings
Those with the condition can be treated with a light box. This acts as a natural source of light when it is a dark and cloudy day.
The sunshine in the summer eases the symptoms of SAD sufferers to a great extent.
Always be careful in the sun. A sunscreen of factor 30 means we can stay out 30 times longer before getting burned. Use a cream with UV protection to help against the harmful rays of the sun when exposed for a long time.
Wear a sunhat which acts as a shade and drink plenty of fluids, avoiding alcohol.
Enjoy the sunshine!