Do You Get Enough Sunlight Exposure? Check Out Its Health Benefits And Side Effects

Sunlight exposure can be both good as well as bad for your body. Check out the health benefits and side effects of sun. Read on.

Navya Kharbanda
Written by: Navya KharbandaUpdated at: Jan 18, 2021 13:15 IST
Do You Get Enough Sunlight Exposure? Check Out Its Health Benefits And Side Effects

3rd Edition of HealthCare Heroes Awards 2023

Have you ever thought that sunlight can be harmful too? Well, the sun rays are also called ultraviolet or UV rays. They can be both beneficial and harmful for our body. Even though you cannot see UV rays, they can easily go underneath your skin. When your body tries to protect itself from the harmful UV rays, your skin gets tanned. From getting sunburns to being a good source of Vitamin D, sun rays have both health benefits as well as side effects. Ideally, it is suggested that around 20-30 minutes of sunlight exposure a day is more than enough for the human body. Read this article to know about the advantages and disadvantages of sunlight alongwith some tips to avoid excess sun exposure.

Health benefits of sunlight exposure

You can get Vitamin D naturally from sunlight. In fact, you can prevent and treat many diseases by getting appropriate sun exposure. Therefore, consider sun rays as a blessing and sunbathe for atleast 20 minutes everyday, and enjoy a wide range of benefits. Here are some health benefits of sunlight exposure:

1. Vitamin D source


It is a known fact that in order to strengthen your bones, one has to take foods that are rich in Vitamin D and calcium. These nutrients help in making our bones stronger. You should give yourself more and more sunlight exposure alongwith supplementation tablets on doctor's prescription. Morning sunlight is a major source of vitamin D. And, this vitamin is essential for your bones. In winters, you should sit under the sun for sometime. However, don't sit for long time. So, the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight can have a positive effect in increasing the vitamin D level in your body.

2. Cures certain skin conditions

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), sunlight rays can help in curing certain skin conditions as well. Many doctors recommend UV rays to treat several skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema, jaundice and some types of acne. So, light therapy is a solution for your skin concerns too.

Also read: 10 ways to Protect your skin from the harsh sun

3. Prevents cancer

Too much sun exposure may also have a negative impact on your skin as it can become a cause behind skin cancers, and that is a side effect. However, getting moderate amount of sunlight can also help in preventing certain types of cancers. According to some researches, people who live at locations where there's more sun are likely to prevent specific cancers more than people who live in areas with fewer daylight hours.

4. Reduces stress

It is also believed that sunlight exposure can be helpful in reducing stress for some people. There might be many reasons for an anxiety or panick attack but after sitting under the sun, you tend to release all the buildup tension. In fact, many doctors also suggest sun exposure as a treatment for depression, that is light therapy, also known as phototherapy.

5. Improves your sleep

Interestingly, sunlight exposure also helps in improving your sleep. Firstly, be relieving stress, your mind and body relax, thus giving you a good sound sleep. And, your body develops a hormone known as melatonin that basically helps you to sleep. As your body starts producing it when it is dark, you mostly start feeling sleepy two hours after the sun sets, which is one of the factors behind our bodies naturally staying up more in the summer season.

Harmful effects of sun exposure

Too much sun exposure is also not good for your body. In fact, it can harm you in ways you can't even imagine. While it treats many health conditions, sunlight exposure should be taken in a planned manner. Check out these 4 main harmful effects of sun exposure:

1. Eye problems

Excessive exposure to UV rays has a potential contributing role in the development of various eye disorders like cataract, pterygium (growth of tissue on the white of the eye), cancer of the skin around the eye, photokeratitis (sunburn of the cornea), corneal degenerative changes, and macular degeneration.

Also read: 8 Reasons to love the sun

2. Premature signs of ageing


If you have had too much sun exposure then the effect of dark spots is known as hyperpigmentation. In fact, more time spent under the sun may also make your skin age faster than normal. These signs of ageing include wrinkles and tightness in the skin. And from sunburns to redness, you might experience many other changes on your skin due to sunlight. You might even get freckles on your skin due to too much exposure.

3. Skin cancer

When ultraviolet rays affect your skin, they can damage the DNA in your skin cells, if it is hitting for a long time. This may even take many years but can even result in skin cancer after a few years. It might not be melanoma skin cancer, and can be treated. Melanoma skin cancer rare but is more severe too. Skin cancer can also spread to other parts of your body, especially if ignored.

4. Immune system risk

Too much sunlightexposure also puts your immune system at risk. White blood cells, that work to protect your body from various infections and diseases, might get affected. Basically, when your skin gets burnt, white blood cells help in developing new cells. Doing so can put your immune system at risk in other areas.

How to avoid excess sun exposure?

The effects of sun exposure on your body depend on various lifestyle factors such as clothing and occupation. You should just know your body's reaction to sun and you can prevent sun exposure. So, here are some tips to avoid excess sun exposure:

1. Apply sunscreen

Applying sunscreen is the most common method to avoid too much sunlight exposure. This is followed by many people before entering a water park. You should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out in the sun. Buy atleast SPF 30 or more as the higher the SPF, the more it will protect against UV rays. Apply it especially on the uncovered areas of your body and reapply after every two hours. You have to put the sunscreen on your whole body.


2. Avoid direct sun

Another tip to avoid excess sun exposure is do not sit directly under the sun. In fact, you should avoid it between 10 am to 4 pm. During this time, the sun's rays are strongest. Morning sunlight is the most effective way to get natural sunshine.  void direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  You have to be especially careful in locations that are closer to the equator. So, avoid direct sun exposure and protect yourself.

Also read: Take More Natural Light For Its Myriad Benefits. Know-How It Makes Your Health Better In 5 Ways

3. Wear proper coverings

You have to cover yourself properly before sunbathing. It is important to wear clothing and caps that are suited to protect your skin from the harmful ultravoilet rays. This rule should be followed by adults as well as babies, as they are even more sensitive. Moreover, you should also wear sunglasses for eye protection.

4. Take breaks

It is also suggested to take a few breaks while sunbathing. Sun exposure is good but taking it for too long continuosly makes you prone to the dangers. Therefore, you can save yourself from the harmful effects by getting in the shade for a while or using an umbrella after every few minutes. Taking breaks when you get hot will make you gain the benefits without getting affected negatively. You should also drink water as much water as you can, if you're sitting under the sun for a long time. Having tomatoes and pomegranate under sunlight is also beneficial for you.

Therefore, these were the health benefits and side effects of getting sunlight. You need to plan your exposure time and sit under the sun acccordingly. You can use the above methods to protect your body from the adverse negative effects of sunshine. However, by getting scared of the risks, you should not miss out on enjoying the health benefits of sunbathing!

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