What Sun Exposure Can Do To You

The sun sits right in the centre of our solar system, and this celestial object is what allows us to thrive on Earth. Without its light and warmth, life would not be able to flourish — trees and plants would not be able to photosynthesize and would wither and die. Without plants, the herbivorous animals that require them for sustenance would die as well, as would the predators that prey on them. Humans too, will suffer and die out without any warmth. It’s definitely no understatement to say that without the sun, we’d all be doomed and would not survive.

We need the sun for survival and it also benefits us in many ways. It can boost our mood, provide us with UV for vitamin D synthesis, and even help us sleep better by adding a rhythm to our days. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows — the burning ball of fire in the sky is a double-edged sword, and it both benefits and harms us as well.

Here are some of the good and bad things that can happen when you’re constantly exposed to the sun.

 

The Good

There are many benefits that can be had when we are exposed to sunlight, many of which benefit us both physically, mentally, and even emotionally. Here are some of the wonderful effects we will feel when exposed to sunlight.

Daily Dose Of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the essential vitamins needed by our body to perform a variety of functions. It helps to maintain good bone strength and strengthen teeth, provides a boost to the immune system, and regulates cell growth to prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cancer. When the sunlight touches your bare skin, the ultraviolet (UV) rays absorb it and use the cholesterol in your body to synthesize vitamin D. All you need is just 10 to 15 minutes of sun time every day and you’ll be good to go.

A Natural Mood Enhancer

There’s a song called “Walking On Sunshine” which an upbeat tune about feeling good, and it’s not just a silly feel-good song. Sunlight does indeed make us feel good, and it does this by increasing the body’s production of serotonin — otherwise known as the happy chemical. It boosts our mood and makes us feel good, while also making us feel more energetic and motivated. Exposure to sunlight also helps to relieve stress, and can even help to decrease the risk of depression in people who suffer from seasonal depression.

Helps Us Sleep Better

In all of us, we have an internal body clock that was designed to follow the patterns of day and night. This is our circadian rhythm, and it is responsible for regulating how awake and sleepy we should be at different parts of the day. In the day when the sun is still up, it keeps us alert and awake, but when the sun goes down, it makes us feel sleepy, thus enabling us to get a better night’s sleep. The circadian rhythm is tuned via sunlight – high-energy light like blue light is the one responsible for making us feel awake, and your body recognizes it and keeps you awake. When you don’t get enough sunlight exposure, your circadian rhythm becomes irregular, and as such will lead to poorer sleep habits.

 

The Bad

As with almost everything, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While exposure to sunlight does have its benefits, it can have detrimental effects on us as well. Some of these can become quite severe, and might even lead to death.

Heat Exhaustion And Stroke

When it’s hot outside, our bodies will start to sweat as a way to help us keep cool and prevent us from overheating. To make sweat, we need to drink fluids and keep ourselves hydrated. If you end up dehydrated due to excessive sweating, you’re likely to be experiencing heat exhaustion. Some symptoms include headaches and dizziness, extreme thirst, as well as a higher body temperature. When you ignore those warning signs, it can lead to heat stroke. This is the most serious of all heat-related injuries and it can lead to death or permanent disability.

Sunburns And Skin Ageing

The UV rays may help to generate vitamin D, but at the same time, it can cause our skin to burn. This causes redness and pain, and in more severe cases, blisters can form on the skin. It’s the reason why skin experts always recommend the use of sunscreen to protect your skin. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can also damage the skin cells and cause premature ageing. You’ll start to see dark spots and wrinkles on your face, and your skin will lose its elasticity. If you’re the type who loves sun-tanning, be sure to apply sunscreen and limit yourself to how many hours you’re exposed.