When people spend time outside, particularly when the sun is out, they are helped in the manufacture of vitamin D. This is essential for a number of reasons, inside and out. It strengthens bones and evens the skin’s natural complexion. Vitamin D is even related to losing belly fat; the higher the levels of this vitamin prior to starting a plan for weight reduction, the greater the likelihood for success, according to one study.1 Vitamin D improvement can also be connected to fending off type 2 diabetes.2 Many windows block UVB wavelengths, which prevents the synthesis of the vitamin, so people do need to go outside for the rays to work their magic.
Sunlight does not only trip the release of serotonin but other hormones, known as endorphins, as well. These are associated with overall calm, less depression, and happier moods. People may simply notice feeling better when the whole body’s system responds to the sun. Seasonal Affective Disorder is also believed to have a link to a lack of sunlight. This form of depression comes when a lack of sun exposure causes a person’s serotonin levels to dip low. There are a number of studies tying sun exposure to the treatment of mild depression as well as to alleviating the systems of moderate to severe depression.3
Sunlight striking the eyes sends a message to the brain’s pineal gland. This message is to shut down the production of melatonin, a hormone that assists in sleeping by making people drowsy. When melatonin is overproduced during the day, people experience lower levels of the hormone at night. Sunlight exposure helps to prevent this. Forego sunglasses in the early morning so that the brain and body receive the message that daylight is here and melatonin is no longer needed for the nonce.
University of Edinburgh researchers found in one study that nitric oxide, a compound which helps to reduce blood pressure, is released into blood vessels once the sun’s light touches the skin. This finding was prominent because it banished the notion that sunlight only stimulated vitamin D production. By lowering blood pressure, sunlight also cuts the risk of strokes and heart attacks. In this way, sun exposure does not only improve people’s health but prolongs their lives.
Since lack of sunlight is tied to depression and depression is linked to appetite, sunlight exposure can help positively affect the appetite. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that controls hunger. It works along with serotonin and aids in relieving hunger. Because of sunlight deficiency causing a drop in serotonin levels, a feeling of fullness sometimes cannot be achieved. Thus, exposure to sunlight can assist in controlling your appetite.
Exposure to sunlight also helps to suppress an immune system that is overactive. This is why sunlight is sometimes used to treat such autoimmune diseases as psoriasis. White blood cells also increase with sunlight exposure. These play a prominent role in fighting off diseases and defending the body when at risk of infection. While best kept in moderation, sun exposure is extremely helpful to the immune system.
While sunlight does carry with it certain dangers and too much is detrimental to the health, too little sunlight also has a number of ill effects. The rewards of sunshine are a mood boost, a healthier body and mind, and a better sleep cycle, among others. Serotonin and endorphins are already boosted by being out in the sun; being active in the sun will be still more rewarding to physical and mental health. People should try soaking up sunlight while walking or engaging in other moderate activities for healthiness.