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Pocketful Of Sunshine

3 min read
Sun exposure is vital for good health. Learn its benefits, and how to get it while going through the Circuit Breaker.

With the Circuit Breaker, most of us are probably not getting as much sun exposure as we should. While an overload of the sun’s rays can be harmful to the skin, a certain amount of sunlight is required for the proper functioning of the body.

Builds Bones
Sunlight is an important source of Vitamin D. It is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” since we get approximately 90% of our vitamin D requirements through exposing our skin to the sun. Vitamin D helps bones and cells absorb calcium and phosphorus, which are vital for strong bones and teeth. It also plays a part in improving muscle function, which can reduce the risk of falls in the elderly. Low vitamin D levels have been known to contribute to rickets in children and bone-wasting diseases such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia in adults.

Improves Mood
Sunlight increases levels of serotonin, a chemical in our body that promotes feelings of happiness and well-being. According to a research study published in The Lancet, the turnover of serotonin in the brain is affected by the amount of sunlight on any given day. Levels of serotonin are higher on brighter days than on cloudy or overcast days. In fact, lack of sunlight and serotonin levels have been implicated in Sudden Affective Disorder (SAD), which causes symptoms of depression during a change of seasons, particularly in winter.Regulates Sleep
Exposure to light plays a vital role in helping our bodies regulate sleep in a healthy way. Being cooped up at home, especially if your house has low levels of natural light, may reduce light-based cues for wakefulness and sleep, known as zeitgebers, which are crucial to our circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep/wake cycle or body clock. Time spent in natural daylight has been found to affect the timing, duration and quality of your sleep. A quick walk outside in the morning, therefore, won’t just rev up your energy, it will also help signal to your brain that it’s time to start the day. If this is not a possibility, you may want to raise your blinds or switch on your brightest light.

Letting in the Light
Here are some steps you can take to ensure you have enough exposure to sunlight:

  • If you can, spend some time outside in natural light, while maintaining social distancing of course. Try to go out early in the morning or late in the afternoon, which are periods when it’s not too hot (and hopefully, less crowded as well).
  • Open the windows and blinds to let light into your home during the day.
  • If you have a balcony, sit there to read your newspapers or have your cup of coffee in the morning. Just make sure the sun is hitting your eyes as the photosensitive cells in your eyes directly affect the hypothalamus region, which controls our circadian rhythm.
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