The sun is responsible for all life on the planet and is one of our most important healers.
Although it’s true that too much repeated time in the sun can lead to sunburn and skin damage — the truth is that in our modern lives and increased screen time, many of us are actually not getting enough sun and missing out on its essential medicine.
Plus, spending time in the sun feels incredible and life affirming! We also often find that when we ask women when they feel most beautiful in our Routines and Rituals column, the most common answer is when they’re sunkissed (also one of our favorite words). If you already make sun medicine a part of your self-care or are looking to spend more time in the sun, here’s some science-backed benefits to further support you.
Reduces Stress and Improves Sleep
You’ve probably heard of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that naturally occurs in the body and is essential for sleep and stress reduction. Our bodies begin melatonin production after the sun sets. Research has shown that getting in even one hour of natural morning light can regulate our circadian rhythm and prepare the body better for sleep.
Melatonin is also an excellent hormone that lowers stress reactivity. Incorporating outside time with a physical activity such as walking or playing with the kids adds a double dose of stress reduction.
Lowers Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, and Cholesterol
Sun has long been anecdotally proven to lower blood pressure but researchers now have the scientific explanation behind it too. It’s all thanks to nitric oxide that lives in the skin and reacts to the light of the sun. As the nitric oxide moves into the bloodstream, this causes the blood vessels to widen and lowers blood pressure.
In terms of cholesterol, our skin makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight because our body uses cholesterol to synthesize vitamin D. The more vitamin D we create, the more cholesterol our bodies use and in turn, the lower our cholesterol becomes.
Recent research has also demonstrated that sunlight is healing for those with insulin, blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes. It’s been shown that people who were exposed to bright sunlight had lower insulin levels and blood-sugar levels.
Helps Kill Bacteria & Speeds Up Wound Healing
Daily sunlight exposure can also help remove germs on the skin and even speed up wound healing. Mother Nature’s natural UVA and UVB lights are germicidal and act as a disinfectant potentially killing viruses and bacteria sitting on the skin.
Can Help Fight Off Depression & PMS Symptoms
Seasonal Affective Disorder is real. If you’re someone that suffers from mild to moderate depression through the darker months, you’re not alone. The sun amps up our bodies’ levels of serotonin — the feel good chemical responsible for balancing our moods — and if we’re not getting enough, it can make us feel less like ourselves. The same is true for our cycle, and can lead to shifts in mood before or during your cycle. So, if you feel not quite like yourself during the cooler months or are suffering from PMS, then getting some extra rays could be beneficial. You could also cozy up with a post-sun walk with a Warm Feelings™ saffron latte for an extra mood booster.