Even though many people are pretty indoorsy today, the outside world can still have a huge impact on your health. For instance, the things that happen to your body after only 10 minutes in the sun are a bit surprising. The closest star to the Earth can affect you in some very real ways.
Before diving in, it's helpful to know a little more about the sun and its rays. For starters, the sun produces ultraviolet (UV) light, which falls outside the spectrum visible to the human eye, according to NASA. Even though people can't see this shorter wavelength of light, it can still affect the body in some real ways. For instance, exposure to UV radiation is a risk factor for skin cancer, and the sun is the main source of these UV rays, according to the American Cancer Society. To help people avoid this risk, the UV Index Scale indicates how potentially dangerous the sun's UV rays are on a given day, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. For instance, a day with a low UV index may present a low risk for the average person, whereas a very high UV index reading means unprotected sun exposure could be dangerous. For the most part, the body needs protection from UV rays.
But this isn't to say that everything about the sun is so negative for the human body. Read on to see how catching some rays may affect your health in both positive (and not-so-positive) ways.
1. UV Light Affects Skin
Sun exposure affects everyone's skin a little differently. In general, people with light skin are more likely to get sunburned, although everyone's skin gets exposed to UV rays to some extent, as explained by the American Cancer Society. So in an area with a high UV factor, someone with very fair skin might start getting sunburned in 5 minutes or less, said dermatologist Jeffrey A. Benabio, MD in Sharecare. However, even people with darker skin can face an increased risk of skin cancer from the cumulative effects of UV exposure, as further explained by the American Cancer Society. This is why it's a good idea for everybody to use sunscreen on your face year-round, according to Elite Daily. Using a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every day can help protect skin against those UV rays, even if you're only out in the sun for a few minutes here and there.
2. Stimulates Vitamin D Production
Sun exposure can also provide some health benefits, too. Getting about 10 to 30 minutes of sun exposure each day may help with vitamin D production, according to Healthline. Vitamin D helps promote bone growth, according to WebMD. Granted, the exact amount of time a person needs to spend in the sunshine will also depend on their skin tone and location, so ask a local doctor for advice about meeting your own vitamin D needs.
3. Exposes Eyes To UV Light
There's another part of the body that's routinely exposed to UV light, and those are the eyes. Because the skin of the eyelid is very thin, and the lens of the eye may become damaged by UV rays over time, eyes are also susceptible to sun damage, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. But by wearing sunglasses that block 100 percent UV whenever you're outside during the day, it's possible to help protect your eyes from this radiation, according to All About Vision.
4. Affects Mood
Could catching some rays make your whole mood a little brighter, too? Sunlight exposure may trigger the release of the hormone serotonin in the brain, which is associated with an improved mood, according to Healthline. If work or other obligations make you stay inside most of the day, then there are some easy ways to get more sunlight in your life, according to Elite Daily. For instance, simply eating lunch outside can give you a few minutes of sunshine each day (and possibly a break from your freezing cold office).
5. Promotes Better Sleep
The amount of sun people get during the day could influence how well they sleep at night. In general, getting exposure to sunlight right after waking may help improve a person's sleep quality, according to Very Well Health. The exposure to light might make the person's circadian rhythm sync up with the actual rise and fall of the sun. For the most part, even a few minutes of sunlight a day may present both positive and negative health effects on for the body.