We’ve all heard about the many great health benefits of sunlight. Unfortunately due to the cold weather outside, not everyone can soak up the sun’s rays in the winter seasons. This doesn’t just make us feel lazier, but it is also harmful to our health. So, even though it may be quite cold outside right now, making an effort to get your sun fix is so important for your health for many reasons.
Today, we will learn why spending a little time basking in the sun during winters is important to be hale and hearty throughout the season. It’s a blissful therapy that not many of us are aware of.
1. Helps build your falling Vitamin D levels
During winters, because of the cold weather and shorter days, people tend to stay indoors for longer durations. Now that we are currently in the middle of a dangerous pandemic, we have even more reasons to stay at home. However, staying away from the sun for long durations often leads to a Vitamin D deficiency during the winter months.
Vitamin D is called the "sunshine vitamin" since it is produced by the body in response to the skin being exposed to sunlight. The vitamin helps the body to build bones, tame inflammation, and boost immunity. It is also needed to help our body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet. The vitamin is extremely essential for good health and to fight infections. A lack of vitamin D can lead to several uncomfortable problems during winters. Unfortunately, in winter, when people need vitamin D the most, most of us are not getting enough as we become lazier and stay indoors more.
Moreover, many recent studies have reported the importance of vitamin D against the novel coronavirus. So, it is doubly important that we try and build our vitamin D levels during the winters.
Health experts say that you need only about 15-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure every day to get your daily dose of vitamin D. So, what are you waiting for?
2. Better for the mood
Do you tend to feel a little down during the winter season? You are not alone. Millions of people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, more commonly known as SAD. It’s a form of depression characterized by a recurring seasonal pattern and happens specifically during a certain time of year. Many people with SAD are affected by the onset of winter.
While the precise cause of SAD is still unknown, experts believe that lack of sunlight during the winters could play a major role. “It disrupts our circadian rhythms, melatonin (the sleep hormone) production, and certain neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for producing serotonin (the hormone associated with elevated mood),” says psychotherapist Alison Stone. This imbalance can trigger depression in some people.
Thankfully, though, sunlight has been proven to help improve your mood. Sit on the balcony or some open area in the morning and soak up the sun rays. This will ensure that the naturally produced serotonin will stay longer in your bloodstream and your mood and energy levels will remain higher. Moreover, studies have also shown that improving your vitamin D levels also improves your mood.
3. Improved sleep
When the weather outside and inside becomes too cold it can often become difficult to go to sleep. Getting sufficient sunlight during the winter months, however, can also help improve your sleep. According to some health reports, sitting under the sun for 15 minutes every day, ideally in the morning, can help shut off the body's melatonin production, the hormone that makes us sleepy when it becomes dark outside. This will then result in your body clock recognizing that it’s time to produce it again when the sun goes down.
When you let your body be exposed to the sunlight every morning, it will increase the production of serotonin that controls and steadies your sleeping patterns. So, don't let lack of sleep trouble you this winter. Just go bask in the sun.
4. It keeps you energized
When you are cramped up indoors during the winters, your melatonin levels naturally increase, causing you to feel lazy. This is where sunlight can be beneficial too as apart from boosting your mood, it can also help keep your energy levels up. “When your eyes detect light, that tells your brain to wake up and release the cortisol you need to increase your metabolism and get through your day,” says hormone expert Anna Cabeca. So, now you know how to keep yourself invigorated during the winter season.
5. It slows weight gain
A lot of us tend to put on extra weight during the winter season. This happens due to many factors: less water intake, not exercising, and having fatty meals at dinner or before bedtime, among many other reasons. Also, our metabolisms increase in winter to enable our body to burn more energy in order to balance our body temperature and stay warm. This results in us eating more food but since we don’t burn enough calories, we put on extra weight in the winters.
However, sunbathing during the cold months may help keep your weight in check. Researchers at Edinburgh and Southampton Universities recently discovered that sunshine slows weight gain. According to the researchers, exposure to sunlight helps release nitric oxide, a protein that slows the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes. That doesn’t mean you should overdo it as excessive exposure to sunlight may be risky. But a little bit every morning might just be helpful enough.
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