Posted by Nicole on May 21, 2014

The sun's good for a lot of things: It produces the natural light that we use to keep our electricity bills low, keeps the world at a generally agreeable temperature most of the time, and helps all of those important trees that supply a good portion of our breathable oxygen to grow. It can also give you a nice tan, dry out your clothes, and power your calculator so that you can figure out how much money you'll have left at the end of the month. 

The sun is great, broadly speaking, but it can do a lot more for us than we realize. Our exposure to sunlight is actually an important part of many of our biological cycles, and our systems actually depend on much of what the sun can do for us on a chemical level. While we aren't plants and can't exactly photosynthesize, we can do a lot with a little bit of sunshine in our day.

Here are a few things that some time in the sun can do for you.

Sunlight Helps You Sleep

It seems somewhat counter intuitive; after all, you can't sleep if the sun's shining on you. The benefits of the sun actually come from the production of melatonin. Whenever your eyes are exposed to sunlight, your nerves receive the signal they need to signal that more melatonin should be produced. The less melatonin you have, the worse your quality of sleep will be. Sleep effects every function of your body, so it naturally follows that more sun is generally good for you.

Sunlight Helps Your Mood

Did you know that sunlight can naturally boost your mood? Just as your body produces more melatonin when it's exposed to sunlight, it also produces more serotonin, a natural chemical created in the brain that can “lift” your mood and generally help to fight off feelings of being down. While it's not a replacement for psychiatric care, some time in the sun can give you a quick pick-me-up.

Sunlight Adds Vitamin D

This one's a little more commonly known, but vitamin D might be more important than you realize. Vitamin D is essential for the interaction of calcium with your bone health, but it's also good to keep your immune system in check, regulate blood sugar levels, keep your heart in functional order, and even to deal with levels of anxiety and stress. It's something of an important vitamin in your system, but some studies report that as many as 75% of people in America are deficient in it. The natural solution: more sun.

Best of all, these influences effect other parts of your health. For example, more regular sleep cycles can mean a stronger metabolism and ability to focus, which improve your mood. Better mood, boosted through regular serotonin production, can also mean better focus while accomplishing a task. It's hard to be healthy without some sun in your life, so now might be the perfect time to take a walk outside and get your daily dose. Unless it's night time, of course.