Jake Berman

"Health Tips From Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist Jenni Berman..."

Use the Form Below to Get Them All Sent to You for FREE

How Does Adequate Sunlight Help to Improve Your Health?

Sunlight provides many positive health benefits such as improving sleep, mood and mental health. It is also well known that sunlight helps keep our vitamin D levels optimal. But, how does sunlight specifically improve these factors, and what does “adequate” sunlight mean?

Most individuals are not getting close to enough exposure to direct and indirect sunlight due to busy work schedules, less outdoor play and activities and the climate, based on the area of the country or world they live in. Optimal exposure to sunlight, to reap all of the health benefits but without too much exposure to dangerous UV rays, would be at least 20 minutes (consecutive minutes if possible) in the sun a day, preferably in the morning hours.

Sunlight improves mood and mental health as it has an impact on the hormones and chemicals in our brain like serotonin, which is one of the “feel good” chemicals. It also helps with regulating and optimizing the cortisol level, which is the stress hormone in the body. When cortisol levels are optimal (and not too high), we can feel calmer throughout the day, manage stress better, sleep soundly and cortisol has a direct impact on other factors including abdominal fat and gut health to name a few.

Getting good sleep can be closely associated with the amount of sunlight individuals are exposed to. The absence and presence of sunlight communicates with a part of the brain called the pineal gland. This gland can either slow down the production of the sleep hormone melatonin when there is more exposure to light, and increase production when there is more exposure to dark. When you have more hours in the dark or dim light and you are in the sunlight less, it may feel harder to wake up in the morning, and you may feel poor energy during the day. This will also leave you with less melatonin production at night, decreasing sleep quality because the pineal gland isn’t getting those natural signals it needs to function optimally.

As discussed above, sunlight improves vitamin D levels. Your body makes about 80 percent of its vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. The sun exposure that makes our skin a bit red temporarily (but not burned) can produce the equivalent of 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D in our bodies, which is amazing! Vitamin D has gained some traction lately for all of its health benefits. Vitamin D can improve mood, brain function, bone health and has a significant impact on Insulin Resistance (another hot topic). When vitamin D is low, you are more likely to have a higher serum insulin level and the reverse is true as well. When we see vitamin D levels improve and optimize, insulin levels and Insulin Resistance often improve. So, one daily act of getting more sunlight can truly improve so much.

It is important to discuss the health concerns with too much sun as well, as we certainly know that too much of anything can be harmful. Excess sun exposure can contribute to developing skin cancers, and with prolonged exposure it is important to utilize sunscreen, hats and garments to protect the skin from excessive UV rays.

All of this to say- try to get out and enjoy the beautiful sunshine for at least 20 minutes a day, in the morning preferably. This simple (and easy) routine can have profound benefits to your overall health and wellness!

Katie Oleksak

Katie Oleksak

Katie Oleksak

Latest posts by Katie Oleksak (see all)

Share This