Most people are familiar with the risks of unprotected sun exposure, such as sunburn, wrinkles, freckles, eye damage and skin cancer. Although overexposure to the sun is bad for your health, getting enough exposure to sunlight is necessary and beneficial. Adequate time in the sun:
- Gives you a boost in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates your appetite, sleep, memory and mood. It also supports your circadian rhythm, which leads to better sleep.
- Turns off melatonin production each morning, which is the hormone that makes you feel drowsy as it gets darker at night.
- Produces Vitamin D, which is needed for important body functions such as strengthening your bones and contributing to your immune system.
- Can give relief of stress and pain, and help individuals suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression.
- Lowers risk for nearsightedness. Research indicates that children who spend more time exposed to sunshine outside may reduce their risk of becoming nearsighted.
The key to reaping the health benefits of sunlight while avoiding the risks is balance and moderation. The U.S. National Institute of Health recommends about 10 to 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen. The time of day and your skin pigmentation will affect how much unprotected time in the sun is healthiest for you.
It’s especially important to wear sunscreen or limit direct sun exposure between 10:00am-4:00pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest. And while you’re out enjoying the sunshine, don’t forget UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes.