In this BIT: What does sunlight do? Discover the benefits of sunlight, why you should go outside more, and things to do outside.
Sunlight plays such an important role in our daily life. It brightens our mood, helps us feel more awake, energizes us, and provides us with vitamins that we need to live. How does the sun give us all these benefits? How can we get more of these benefits within our busy lives? Do we need to go outside to benefit from the sun? Let’s break things down.
Firstly, the sun helps reduce tiredness and helps us know when we need to feel tired so we can fall asleep. Our bodies have a circadian rhythm. This is how our bodies regulate when we feel tired and want to sleep, and when we feel awake. Our circadian rhythm depends on multiple factors, including stress, travel, physical activity, and light vs dark. Sun plays a very large part in the circadian rhythm. When we are exposed to natural light, our eyes capture this change in environment and around us. Information about our sunlight exposure is then sent to different parts of our body, resulting in our body producing less or more sleep hormone. In fact, getting 30 minutes of sunlight on our body early on in the day helps us sleep better the following night. Again, this is due to the fact that sunlight resets our circadian rhythm, helping our body know when to be awake, and when to feel tired.
When we spend time in the sun, our body absorbs ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. These rays trigger a chemical reaction in our body, where a precursor of vitamin D is converted in our liver, then kidney, into vitamin D. Vitamin D is very important for us! It helps us maintain and build bone strength, as it is a vitamin that helps our body retain calcium and phosphorus. Additionally, this vitamin reduces cancer cell growth, inflammation, and even helps control infections.
On top of all this, sunlight also makes us feel happier. When we are exposed to sunlight, our brain releases more serotonin, which is a happiness hormone! Serotonin not only helps us feel happier, it also helps us digest food faster. Additionally, serotonin regulates our sleep-wake cycle, in turn improving our sleep quality. It is even released by platelets in our blood to help in healing wounds.
All these benefits of sunlight are most accurate when you actually go outside to enjoy the sun – not just open a window. To get these benefits you don’t need to spend hours outside, 30 minutes is enough. Below we share a few tips on how to spend more time outside:
– Ear outside: When it’s warm enough, eat your lunch outside (at work or school), drink morning coffee outdoors, or ask your family to eat dinner in the yard or balcony.
– Hangout outside: When you hangout with your friends, do it outside! Walk to a corner store to pick up some treats, go to the playground, visit an amusement park, go biking or sledding, or even make a snowman.
– Daily tasks: Take your daily tasks and do them outside! Study or do homework/work outdoors, read outside, or make some extra money walking your neighbours dog!
We hope you took away the importance of going outside. However, do remember to always wear sunscreen. You can still get all these benefits with sunscreen! We hope that you are now inspired to get outside and enjoy the countless benefits the sun has to offer, as well as get a small bit of happiness.
For more happiness check out our Mood Boost page.
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