The Benefits of Natural Light: How Much Do We Need?
Daylight does so much more than help plants grow, it’s essential to your wellbeing. The sun keeps our bones strong with vitamin D, helps us sleep better, and it has proven to boost serotonin production. Scientists have been touting the health benefits of natural light for decades – but the perks don’t end there. Other studies have shown that increased exposure to sunlight helps us perform better and to be more productive.
Unfortunately, fears of UVB rays and cancer scares have frightened many into avoiding sunlight completely, causing them to miss out on this necessary element. While there is such thing as too much sunshine, don’t miss out on the amazing – and necessary – benefits of natural light.
Health Benefits of Natural Light
Vitamin D Production
Exposure to natural light has a direct correlation with vitamin D production. The body produces this vital nutrient when the skin comes into contact with UVB rays. The recommended amount of vitamin D 1000-4000 IU. It’s crucial for bone health, enabling bones to properly absorb calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D has also been linked to reducing the likelihood of developing certain cancers.
Natural light also plays a significant role in regulating mood and treating depression. Unlike the requirements for vitamin D, indirect exposure, such as light streaming through a window, has been found to be effective. Light therapy is a method that mimics natural light in order to ease the severity of depression.
Sunlight can aid in diseases linked with low-serotonin, but lack of sun can actually cause illness itself. One example is Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as S.A.D. S.A.D. occurs during the darker winter season when sunlight is scarce.
More Restful Sleep
Our innate inclination towards natural light is about more than just mood-boosting and aesthetics. Sunlight is linked to our natural circadian rhythm. One study showed that adults who were exposed to natural light in the morning slept longer (and more restfully) than their sun-deprived counterparts.
How Much Natural Light Do We Actually Need?
Experts say to skip the protective clothing and lotions in order to fully receive the benefits of natural light. Soaking up some sun is most effective during the afternoon hours when ultraviolet rays can actually penetrate the atmosphere. The public health scares about skin cancer have been re-evaluated. Health councils actually encourage forgoing sunscreen (if sun exposure is for a short period of time and the UV Index is less than 3).
A minimum of 10 minutes (that’s about 10,000 IUs) of daily sun exposure is recommended for general well-being – but the ideal amount of time varies between each individual for several reasons. Factors include skin pigmentation, age, and where you live.
Darker skin does not absorb UVB rays as readily as lighter skin. Those with more skin pigmentation need longer sun exposure to achieve the same vitamin D levels. Tan skin needs about 15-20 minutes of exposure, and dark skin needs about six times more exposure than fair skin.
A study conducted by the Harvard Medical School found that age plays a significant role in the sun exposure/skin cancer relationship. Sunburns are most dangerous before the age of 20, so the minimum amount of recommended sun exposure is the safest option. Skin becomes less efficient at producing vitamin D as we age. This means we need more time in natural light as we get older.
Living in South Florida we have access to sunshine year-round. Not only is sunlight vital to our wellbeing, but it is aesthetically pleasing. Transform any room into a sunny sanctuary and take advantage of the many benefits of natural light. Have you considered installing glass windows fixtures and doors in your home? If your South Florida home is lacking in natural light, upgrade to beautiful glass windows and doors. Check out the past projects of the award-winning ASP Windows and Doors and contact them for a quote today!