After a long, freezing winter, is there anything as nourishing as basking in the sun? Tilting your face towards the light and feeling the warmth of your skin feels so therapeutic. It’s difficult, in those moments, to remember all the harm the sun can potentially cause. Especially because there are real, scientifically backed studies of the positive effects the sun has on our bodies.
Sifting through conflicting clinical studies can be confusing if you’re trying to find out the truth about the sun. Prolonged sun exposure is proven to be dangerous? However, if you avoid the sun, will you be missing out on too many benefits?
If you’re someone who spends large amounts of time gardening outdoors, it’s imperative to understand the different effects of the sun. Peruse this article and assess your lifestyle to ensure you take your time in the sun seriously. Should you discover you are missing essential benefits of the sun, take a look at possible supplements you may be lacking. Review Critic has comprehensive reviews on different supplements and brands to find one that is right for you. On the other hand, if you are taking in too much sun, you will need to make sure to take necessary precautions outlined below.
Positive Effects Of The Sun
Do you have an easier time jumping out of bed in the morning when the sun is shining? The effects of the sun are simply amazing. Getting a burst of energy and feeling ready to conquer the day feels effortless. It’s not just you. There is actually scientific evidence behind this phenomenon.
Here are some ways where the sun works chemically to exerts a positive force in our lives:
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as Seasonal Depression, mainly affects people from negatively from fall through winter. This is an actual diagnosable disorder, not just people who love the sun and are bummed when the sun is around.
Possible symptoms of SAD include:
- Having low-energy
- Feeling lethargic
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased appetite
- Overall hopeless feeling
Exposure to the sun is actually an effective treatment for SAD. People who suffer severely from this type of depression do well when they relocate to warmer, sunnier areas.
Serotonin is an important chemical which is still under research in order to fully understand it’s impact in our bodies. It is believed to be a key player in many processes, especially it’s effect on our mental health.
Serotonin is responsible for keeping depressive disorders like SAD at bay. While it’s not exactly clear how it keeps SAD away, one theory is that the sun causes the brain to produce more serotonin. High levels of serotonin are associated with feeling positive and energetic while low levels are discovered in people who are depressed.
Can exposure to the sun extend our lives? Interestingly, there was a study done on Swedish women which asked that very question.
Analyzing the effects of the sun of women aged 25-64 years old, both smokers and non-smokers, the results were eye-opening. They found that those with sun exposure had a lower risk of heart disease and lived 0.6-2.1 years longer than those who avoided it.
There was an increase of cancer found in the sun exposure group, but that is contributed to the fact that this group lived longer.
Vitamin D is a hormone synthesized by our skin after it is exposed to the sun. It is actually a hormone which contributes to healthy bones and may be strongly connected to heart disease. Vitamin D is still being studied as it’s believed to contribute positively to a myriad of other health benefits as well.
The good news is that even 15 minutes in the sun will produce the Vitamin D needed in our bodies.
Within a 24 hour cycle, our bodies function in a circadian rhythm. It acts as an internal clock for physical, as well as behavior, changes. Rhythms such as sleep and waking are internally set, but they are influenced by external factors as well. One major factor is the sun. Research shows that spending an hour in the morning sun will help you sleep better at night. Conversely, the artificial light we surround ourselves with at night, especially from phones and tablets, push off our natural bedtimes.
Ideally, we should be spending time in the sun, exposed to natural light in the daytime, for better quality and longer sleep.
Treats Skin Conditions
Treatments for certain skin conditions benefit greatly from short exposure to the sun. Some examples include eczema, psoriasis, rickets, and jaundice.
Negative Effects Of The Sun
The negative effects of the sun come from it’s Ultraviolet (UV) rays. They are actually broken down into 3 parts:
- UVA rays – These are long wave rays which can penetrate deep into our skin and even infiltrate glass. They are most of the rays that reach our skin
- UVB rays – These are short wave rays so they don’t penetrate as deeply but are very powerful.
- UVC rays – The strongest of the three types of UV rays, these rays are fortunately blocked by the ozone layer and therefore, are not responsible for causing harm to our bodies.
Below are possible ways UV rays can cause in the body:
Damage To Eyes
Staring at the sun for extended periods of time can cause serious damage to the eyes. Conditions like snow blindness can occur when sunlight is reflected off of snow.
Strenuous activity in the sun can lead to heat stroke. Symptoms include:
- Extremely high body temperature
- a headache
- Accelerated heart rate
- Red, hot skin
If any of these symptoms emerge, it is imperative to get medical help immediately.
Sunburns can happen in as little as 15 minutes and occur when UVA and UVB rays penetrate the skin. The severity of the sunburn depends on the amount of pigment in your skin as well as where you are located and the time of day you are exposed to the sun. Symptoms of sunburn may include:
Aloe vera, cool baths and drinking plenty of water will bring relief to a sunburn.
Unfortunately, the cumulative effect of repeated sunburns can lead to skin cancer.
Premature Aging Of Skin
Wrinkled, leathery skin is a sign of premature aging. One study sought to find the effect that sun has on a caucasian woman’s facial skin. Through investigating various criteria such as wrinkles, pigmentation, blood vessels and firmness, the study concludes with the sun being 80% responsible for aging.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. UVA and UVB rays can damage the DNA of skin cells causing them to mutate and produce tumors.
3 types of skin cancer:
- Melanoma – This is the least common type of skin cancer and the deadliest because of it’s rapid growth. Melanoma can be seen as moles which can be a variety of colors, for example black, brown, pink, purple, blue or white.
- Squamous cell – This is curable when caught and treated early. It occurs mostly on the parts of the body that are regularly exposed to the sun like the nose, forehead, ears, lower lip and hands.
- Basal body – The most common type of skin cancer, this is easily treatable because it is slow-growing
Getting checked regularly by a dermatologist can help catch precancerous signs of skin cancer. Additionally, you can learn how to check your own skin. An easy way to do so is to remember the ABCDEs of moles:
- Asymmetrical – Moles which are asymmetrical.
- Borders – Moles with irregular borders.
- Color – Moles which are multi-colored; normal moles are usually uniform in color.
- Diameter – Moles that have a larger diameter than a pencil eraser.
- Evolving – Moles that are always changing. If you think a mole is growing, circle the mole with a pen and watch it over a few days to see if it is in fact evolving.
Preventing Sun Damage
In order to prevent negative effects from the sun, take the following precautions:
- Apply sunscreen – The correct time to apply is 20 minutes before sun exposure
- Reapply sunscreen regularly (even more if you are sweating or going in the water) – Most people don’t use enough sunscreen to block out all the UVB rays.
- SFP protected clothing – UV rays can penetrate through clothing. If you can see through a t-shirt, chances are it’s not blocking out UV rays properly.
- Wear a hat – Wear a brimmed hat that covers your ears
- UV protected sunglasses – This is especially important if you are around sand or snow, both of which reflect the sun.
- Avoid direct noon sun – The sun is it’s strongest from 10am-4pm. Avoiding direct exposure during that time is highly recommended.
- Stay in the shade – When possible, it’s preferable to stay in the dense shade.
Gardening outside is a wonderful exercise which ensures plenty of time to reap the benefits from exposure to the sun. To ensure you are getting the positive effects of the sun, get regular blood tests in order to check your levels of vitamins and minerals. At the same time, beware of the harmful effects of the sun. As with many things in life, finding a balance is key. Learn to embrace and avoid the sun depending on what your body needs.