Abstaining from the damaging effects of UV rays from the sun can never be over emphasized in this day and age with the depletion of the ozone layer. Often we get warned, “Don’t go out without sunscreen, it’s dangerous!” Yes, the cruel hot sun is linked to all kinds of conditions from mild sunburns to fatal skin cancer and even worse heat wave deaths. That notwithstanding, it is the one star that makes earth inhabitable and every form of life in the universe is dependant on the sun for survival. You probably knew that didn’t you? But, do you know that the sun holds the key to your happiness too?

Try feeling the first light of the sun at the break of dawn hit your face. It’s a similar sensation to enjoying the warmth of the fading rays at sundown, just phenomenal. See, the sun stimulates the production of Serotonin -the hormone for joy, happiness, tranquility, relaxation and everything in between. When the body has a deficiency of Serotonin or low levels of it, a person naturally starts to exhibit emotions of moodiness, depression or even irritability. This person may also experience lack of sleep or irregular sleep sessions since their circadian rhythm is off beat. The sun is responsible for setting and regulating the circadian rhythm which defines sleeping pattern by controlling the release of Melatonin -the body’s natural sleep hormone.

A small daily dose of the sunshine’s burst of goodness is therefore an essential part of your well being. It goes a long way to keep you in high spirits, promote quality sleep and mental stability aside from it’s other numerous benefits: helping the body synthesize vitamin D, healthy bone formation, boosting autoimmunity, the proper functioning of the nervous system and other cognitive functions. Studies have also linked the sun rays to lowering the risk of diabetes, blood pressure and heart disease in older people.

Despite these benefits of having the sun on your skin, great caution must be exercised. An article published by the Harvard Medical School confirms these benefits but also stresses on the right timing and dosage as very crucial. The recommended time to experience the sun’s therapeutic effects is two hour after sunrise and two hour before sunset. This is ideally between 7-9am and 4-6pm when the quality of the rays is most favourable and not harsh. The basking sessions need to be short that is why I said, a little sunshine; about 15 minutes maximum everyday or a few days a week will do. These benefits apply not only to adults but babies and seniors alike. Try exposing legs, arm, face, chest and back if you can because the more skin surface area is reached the better the results.

Prolonged use of anti-depressants and sleeping pills can have detrimental effects on the user in the long run. The answer to your depression and sleeplessness could just be in devoting a small part of your early mornings and late afternoons to nature’s largest gift to mankind, the sun. It doesn’t even matter if you work long hours confined in a building. You can sunbathe right through your clear glass office or home window; it’s just as effective as being outside.

Originally published at simplystawa.blogspot.com