When it comes to basking in the delicious rays of the sun, we tend to hear a lot about the negative aspects. So, before we dive into the many psychological benefits, let’s quickly deal with those negatives. First of all, make sure you apply sunscreen, hydrate often, and take shade breaks regularly. Provided you do these things; you don’t need to worry much about sunburn or heatstroke.
When you spend time in the sun, it boosts your energy and improves your mood! It naturally boosts the brain’s serotonin levels giving you a free mood boost. It shouldn’t be surprising for you to learn our serotonin levels are highest during the summer months.
You may be familiar with seasonal depression or SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. For some people, a lack of sunlight during the winter months triggers depression. The symptoms include overeating, oversleeping, tiredness, bad moods, as well as difficulty maintaining friendships and making new friends. SAD is rare in the summer months, and that’s because of sunlight. Many SAD sufferers use a special light during the winter to replicate the sun.
Stress is literally a killer. The more stress you experience, the less sleep you get, the worse your diet gets, and that’s just for starters. Of course, all of these things contribute to poor health. Your heart is under stress; your brain is constantly battling against a wave of cortisol (the stress hormone).
One of the greatest ways to relieve stress is by getting yourself out in the fresh air and enjoying the sun. You can do this by exercising outdoors, taking your dog for long walks, or just finding an outdoor hobby that you find relaxing. It gets you the sun you need and boosts your mood while you’re at it.
Your body naturally produced melatonin, but how much your brain produces is down to sunlight exposure. Your brain uses light and dark to tell your body when it’s time for sleep. As it gets dark, your body produces melatonin to let you know it’s bedtime in two hours. The summer brings more sunlight, which means you’re going to feel more awake. You may think this should sway your sleep the other way. However, with the sun rising early and encouraging you out of bed, and an increase in your physical activity, you should sleep easier at night.
Of course, this is also impacted by vitamin D. Your body requires it to maintain your bone strength. Sun is one of the best ways to get the vitamin D that you need. The best part is all you need is 15 minutes in the sun to get as much vitamin D you need. Better yet, vitamin D is helpful for sleep. Studies have found links between vitamin D deficiencies and insomnia.
If you prefer to stay indoors, find little ways to push yourself out to enjoy the sun. Think about an afternoon of gardening, reading a book in the backyard or go to the park with friends. There are plenty of ways you can get more sunlight in your life and enjoy the benefits!