Sun Exposure Series: The good.

Summer in Columbia, South Carolina is upon us.  It is no secret that Columbia gets very hot and very sunny in the summer months(and most of spring and fall).  There are many benefits to the sun and heat.  Over the next few weeks I will talk about sunshine, and next month we will talk about heat acclimatization, benefits and dangers of exercising in the heat.   

Let’s start with the positive:

 

Getting an adequate amount of sunlight can have many positive health benefits.  Everyone has heard that your body uses sunlight to produce Vitamin D.  In fact, sunlight can also increase hormone precursors, nitric oxide, dopamine and others (more on this from Bulletproof<https://blog.bulletproof.com/light-hacking-for-better-energy-mood-and-performance/>). 

 

Recommendations for skin exposure are 10-20 minutes in the middle of the day, with as much exposed skin as possible. 

 

 In a similar way, sunlight on your eyes can have positive effects.  Your sleep cycle, or circadian rhythm, is set by the wavelengths of light that your eyes are exposed to. 

 

Having trouble getting to sleep?

 

Something I'm sure most people have heard is that blue light can affect your sleep by disrupting your production of melatonin.  Most artificial lights and screens are almost entirely blue light, and do not contain the red and other wavelengths that your eyes are looking for. 

 

Think about the sun.  Sunrise and sunset can have a red tint to them, and this, along with a decreasing amount of blue light is the signal for your body to produce melatonin and start to shut down. 

 

What this all means is that you should expose yourself to full spectrum light like sunlight in the middle of the day, and get rid of as much primarily blue light as you can around morning and bedtime.   




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