For years, we have been told to use sunscreen and cover up in the summer, and that too much sun exposure is bad for our health. While this is true, what a lot of people don’t realize is that in moderation sunshine is good for us.
Have you ever felt sad, down or depressed during the winter months? If so, there’s a chance that you were suffering from SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, especially in Alaska with our long dark winters. The lack of sunlight during the winter can actually impair your mood, disrupting your sleep pattern, and impairing your cognitive function too.
In addition, your body needs sunlight to make vitamin D. You can take in some vitamin D through your diet, but if you get 15-20 minutes of sunlight during the day, that will help your body to make enough of this essential vitamin of its own accord.
Waking up to the morning sun, and then going to sleep when it gets dark is a normal sleep pattern for our bodies. We struggle so much to sleep these days because we often find that we need to wake up when it’s still dark, then we spend time in rooms with artificial lighting, looking at computer screens that give off glows which confuse our internal body clocks, so our brains don’t know when to secrete the hormones that are associated with wakefulness or with sleep.
That’s why taking some time away from the computer screen is so beneficial, and why spending a bit of time going for a walk in the sun will cheer us up and make us feel better.
Getting some sunshine, for a few minutes each day, can help to reduce the appearance of acne, give you healthy looking skin (a full tan is not necessarily a sign of ‘health’, and deliberate tanning can be harmful, but some exposure to the sun is beneficial), and also provide the vitamin D producing-benefits previously mentioned. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium, which means that indirectly, getting some sunshine each day will help to improve the health of your teeth and bones. This is beneficial for anyone, but particularly so if you are concerned about the possibility of developing osteoporosis in later life.
So, take a moment during your lunch break to go outside and walk around the parking lot. Open your windows at home, sit out in the garden sometimes, and enjoy nature’s best, free mood boost. If you need to check out the daylight hours in Alaska, you can also use this handy little calculator.