How many times have we heard someone say “huwag ka mag pa-araw o iitim ka”?
People sometimes have stigma when thinking about standing in the sun: it can make you age prematurely– making your face wrinkly, make you susceptible to heat stroke and even be a cause of cancer.
But sunshine has actually been found to have some great health benefits, in small doses.
Vitamin D (the sun kind)
Also known as the “sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D is produced in our body whenever it is directly exposed to sunlight. It assists in the development of our bones and nourishes our immune system, making our bodies less vulnerable to sicknesses.
Vitamin D is very important to our bodies. A symptom of Vitamin D deficiency in adults is a general sense of fatigue. Other symptoms include aching and pain due to bone or muscle weakness, and fractures caused by stress.
Although the sun is a main source of Vitamin D, it may be possible for some people to require eating foods containing Vit. D and/or taking supplements, depending on where you live– whether the sun is being blocked out by pollution or multiple high-rise buildings– and/or your skin tone, as the melanin in darker skin makes Vit. D absorption more difficult.
Besides Vitamin D, sunlight also triggers our body to produce serotonin. Serotonin is associated with sleep and eating habits, but it is more commonly known by its effect on our mood. Sometimes called the “happiness hormone”, serotonin can increase alertness and boost your mood by promoting a general sense of happiness within your body.
Without enough sun exposure, it is possible for serotonin levels to drop. This may increase a person’s chances of developing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression directly influenced by the changing of the seasons.
Boosting serotonin levels in your body with sunshine will brighten your day literally and mentally, also benefitting those who may be experiencing other major forms of depression.
Nighttime routine essential
Our body clocks, or circadian rhythms, coordinates our behavior with the time of day. This is responsible for making us feel sleepy or awake at certain times of the day/night. Getting some sunshine on your body wakes it up, letting your body know that now is the time to be awake. This will lead your body to better recognize when it is time to sleep, when it gets dark. This may lead to a deeper and better-quality sleep.
Irregular circadian rhythms may cause symptoms of both depression and bipolar disorder.
According to physician, researcher and author, Dr. Mithu Storoni, “The brighter your daylight exposure, the more melatonin you produce at night.”
Opposite serotonin, which is produced when you are exposed to sunlight, is melatonin, which is produced at night or in the dark. Melatonin’s nickname, the “sleep hormone”, is pretty self-explanatory as it is responsible for helping you sleep. Melatonin helps regulate your quality of sleep, synchronize your body clock and lower stress levels.
Don’t overdo it
Don’t run out of your house just yet! Recommendations for time in the sun vary depending on where you live and your skin tone, both factors determine your body’s capacity for absorbing sunshine. The safest “dose” is having direct sunlight for 10-15 minutes at least 2-3 times a week.
Don’t forget that despite the benefits the sun gives, too much of it can have adverse effects on your body. If you plan to stay out for more than this suggested time, don’t forget to put sunscreen with an SPF of (at least) 15 or higher, and be aware of peak sunburn hours which are usually around 10 AM to 4 PM.
In a Forbes article written by Noma Nazish, students have been recorded to do better in their tests when exposed to more sunlight. Other studies have shown the correlation of exposure to sunlight to the improved “sleep, activity and quality of life” of employees.
Bonus: You don’t have to wait to go to the beach to get a tan. Hot girl summer is not over ‘till you say it is! Plus, going out in the sun also lets you have time to get those golden hour pics to bless everyone else’s timelines and Instagram feeds.
Don’t be shy the next time Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun peeks out from behind the clouds. Quarantine does not require staying home shrouded in darkness, so go outside (or open a window) and get some sunlight!
Other POP! stories you might like: