The Benefits of Natural Sunlight: Health, Happiness and Beauty

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The sun is a star fixed at the center of our solar system — everything revolves around it. In many ways, the sun sits at the center of our lives, too. We orient our homes to capture its warmth. We keep time by its passage. It produces the heat and light that keeps us alive. 

These are obvious ways that we depend on the sun. But science tells us that we benefit from sunlight in surprising ways too. Did you know that sunlight can:

Make you happy? 

• Help you to sleep better? 

• Boost your immune system?

• Reduce your risk of cancer? 

• Lower your cholesterol and blood pressure?

Research shows that a few minutes of sunlight each day can produce so many significant benefits. Health care professionals may not agree about how much sun we need, but they do agree that we suffer without it. 

The Science of Sunlight

The rising and setting of the sun has a lot to do with our body’s natural rhythm, known as our Circadian Rhythm. Our body’s hormones actually respond to sunlight. At night, our bodies produce melatonin to make us drowsy. Come morning, our bodies respond to sunlight by producing serotonin, a “feel good” hormone that stimulates our brains, influences our moods, controls our appetite, and fights stress. Without sunlight, our body can fall out of its natural rhythm. 

In response to direct sunlight, our body produces vitamin D – crucial for healthy immune systems and skin, brain activity, and bone growth. Vitamin D has also been proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, fight disease, and to encourage better sleep.

Disruptions (or lack of sunlight) can trigger a domino effect that leads to poor sleep, depression, and compromised immune systems – an obviously unhealthy cycle. Kind of makes you a little eager to get out in that sunshine, huh? It should. We have a long history (and healthy relationship) with the sun and that’s not going to change any time soon. 

So how can you add more natural light to a dark space?

• Add some shine

The more shiny surfaces you have in a room, the brighter it will appear. Add brass doorknobs and lighting fixtures, mirrors, silver frames, or acrylic furniture.

• Treat the windows

For maximum sunlight, keep your windows unobstructed. Choose sheer fabrics, or cover only the outer edges of the window to create a larger appearance without blocking any light.

• Go light and glossy

Lighter paint colors on the walls and ceiling – especially the glossier finishes – will reflect the most light back into the room.

by Anjie Cho