Sunlight gets a bad rep. From the years since exposure to sunlight has been linked to cancer, and most of the rhetoric surrounding sunlight seems to revolve around reducing exposure to the sun and protecting yourself from it. It’s important to note that the contributor to skin cancer is the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation spectrum of sunlight. There is no need to fear mild sunlight, especially now with sunscreen around to protect us from UV rays.
In fact, many of us need to embrace sunlight more. Sunlight has many many benefits for our health and our happiness that cannot be replaced. In normal times, the solution would be easy: to go out and take a walk in a park or play a sport in an outdoor court. But now, with many of us having differing levels of comfort going out, and with different levels of restrictions, it may be more prudent to get our needed sunlight at home.
Getting sunlight at home requires having the windows unhindered by curtains and allowing natural light to pour in. But this may be at odds with privacy. Straddling this fine line may be a battle, but with the right window coverings, it can be easy. Striking a balance between privacy, aesthetics, and openness is one of the benefits of natural blinds. Another option could include translucent curtains. Whichever way you choose to ornament your windows, make sure that enough sunlight pours in to reap its many benefits.
Benefits of Sunlight
Sunlight is oftentimes the only source of vitamin D accessible to humans. Vitamin D is essential for humans to get, and can help regulate the immune system, maintain body weight, control asthma symptoms, as well as help keep the brain working efficiently into later life. It is also required for humans to make use of the mineral calcium to strengthen bones and prevent medical conditions such as osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. While some countries may have milk or dairy products fortified with vitamin D, sunlight is still the primary source of vitamin D.
Sunlight can also lower blood pressure. Research revealed that sunlight can alter levels of the small messenger molecule, nitric oxide, which is stored in the top layers of the skin. This causes blood vessels to widen as the oxide moves into the bloodstream which, in turn, lowers blood pressure.
Sunlight also benefits our vision. While blue light—the light typically emitted from our laptop screens and mobiles, and which all electronic devices emit—is harmful to our eyes and can cause strain, sunlight helps the eye produce dopamine which promotes healthy eye development and reduces the risk of nearsightedness in children.
Sunlight can also have psychological benefits. Studies have shown that natural light can improve focus and concentration, increase productivity, and make people feel happier and calmer. It can also help with alleviating Season Affective Disorder (SAD) and feelings of depression. This may be because sunlight is known to stimulate the production of serotonin, which can stabilize our moods and produce feelings of well-being, and endorphins which relieve stress and pain. Serotonin is also known to help with sleeping, eating, and digestion.
Not only can sunlight make you feel better, it may also make you smarter. Studies showed that students working in rooms with more natural light performed better on tests measuring memory recall and mental function by 10 to 25%.
Sunlight can also provide you with more energy during the day. This is because sunlight slows down the body’s ability to make the hormone melatonin which regulates sleep. High amounts of melatonin in our bloodstream make us sleepy, while lower amounts keep us awake and alert.
Allowing lots of natural light to pour in during the day can keep us awake at work or school, and help regulate our circadian rhythms making us sleepy at night when we need to be. This can also help improve our sleep quality, and a study showed how people exposed to more sunlight slept an average of 46 minutes more per night.
Apart from these benefits, sunlight can also help keep the house healthy by killing mold and preventing the growth of mildew. Opening the windows and letting natural light in can also bring down your utility costs by reducing the need to turn on artificial lights and air conditioning units.
No matter how you look at it, sunlight is an all-rounder. It can improve your physical, mental, and psychological health as well as provide economical benefits. With the invention of sunscreens, there seems to be no reason not to let a little sunlight back into your lives. If the noontime or afternoon rays are too strong for you, try to just start off your day basking in the sun’s rays so you can soak up all the goodness the mild rays provide.