Health benefits of sunlight

A lack of sunlight doesn’t just put you in a less cheery mood. It can actually have surprising health effects. Sunlight is necessary for human well-being — it’s a major factor in mood and in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, and we also need plenty of sunlight on our skin to make Vitamin D.

Today’s lifestyles often make it difficult to get sufficient sunlight, impacting health in various ways: vitamin D deficiences, mood disorders such as depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and a weakened immune system. Here are some techniques and products that can help you compensate for the lack of sunlight.

Vitamin D supplementation is highly recommended for people who work indoors for most of the day, especially in colder northern climes where there’s less sunlight. Vitamin D3 supplements are easily available — for preference, use a sublingual spray which is absorbed into your body more rapidly. On the topic of supplementation, some SAD sufferers note that they feel better when they supplement with melatonin, a natural substance that’s involved in sleep. Research is divided over the effectiveness of this supplement but it has many fans.

Artificial lighting can be tweaked to produce some of the same effects as sunlight. Daylight bulbs are a quick and easy way to lift your mood; brighter than normal bulbs, they have a colour frequency range that’s intended to be closer to natural sunlight. There are also SAD lamps which are intended to have a similar but stronger effect. Innovators such as Parans are taking things a step further and creating entire indoor lighting systems to address sun deficiency and promote everyday health.

Sunlight bulbs and SAD lamps should not be confused with systems that provide ultraviolet light. Used with care, UV lamps can help your body produce vitamin D. Caution is important here as UV can cause sunburn and may contribute to melanoma later in life.