We are often used to hearing about the many ways the sun can be harmful to our skin. Although there are risks when it comes to over-exposure to the sun, the right balance can actually have multiple benefits to our general health
Sunlight can trigger the release of hormones in our brain. This exposure in particular increases the brain’s release of the hormone serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is involved in many processes, including regulating mood. It is also known for promoting good sleep by regulating circadian rhythms, promotes learning, memory and regulates appetite.
Without sun exposure, our serotonin levels can dip. Studies have shown that low levels of serotonin can be associated with an increased risk of major depression with seasonal pattern. This is a form of depression triggered by the changing seasons.
An appropriate amount of sun exposure can also increase a person’s vitamin D levels, which is essential in promoting bone health. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to bone-wasting diseases like osteoporosis and rickets in children.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), getting anywhere from 5-15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands and face 2-3 times a week is enough to receive these benefits. The sun must penetrate the skin, so wearing sunscreen or clothing over the skin won’t result in this production. It is important to note though that any further exposure after 15 minutes should result in applying sunscreen and taking other protective measures to protect the skin in order to reduce the risk of sunburn.
So, if you’re bored during these school holidays and sick of being indoors, a little bit of sun exposure might just be the thing you need!