The holiday season has all of us burning the candle at both ends. Winter days with fewer hours of sunlight don’t help matters. While we’re used to seeing warnings about overexposure in the summer, the sun’s rays do offer benefits for our health and mood.

Sunlight releases the hormone serotonin in the brain. This hormone is connected to feelings of calm, and improving mood and focus. Darkness causes the release of melatonin which helps you sleep. With these two hormones at work, it’s easy to understand how fewer hours of sunlight can result in us feeling sleepy and not as chipper. It can even lead to a seasonal pattern of depression.

Light therapy, or phototherapy, is a common treatment for seasonal depression. A light therapy box replicates natural sunlight causing the brain to release serotonin and limit melatonin. A doctor can help determine if you will benefit from this therapy.

Sunlight also helps us produce vitamin D, a key component in healthy bones. Skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, jaundice and acne may also benefit from exposure to UV radiation from the sun. This type of radiation must be limited as it has also been shown to lead to skin cancer. The World Health Organization states that 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hand and face 2 – 3 times per week can be beneficial. If you’re going to be outside for more than 15 minutes, it’s a good idea to protect your skin by applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Wearing a protective hat and shirt can also help.

  • Categorized in:
  • Transportation Safety
  • Health & Wellness