We've heard all our lives why the sun is bad for us; that it gives us skin cancer and premature aging. But have you ever felt like you are a different person when the sun comes out; a much happier, optimistic, motivated person? Or have you seemed to notice that the grouchiness of other people seems to disappear along with the gray, dark clouds? Well it turns out that the sun isn't all bad. It actually is mostly good. Here's why the sun truly does make people happier and why we need at least 20 minutes a day.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Although there are plenty of reasons to not stay in the sun to long, there are actually consequences from not having enough sun exposure. Some consequences of not being in the sun enough have been linked to fertility problems, cancer, poor health, depression, sadness, fatigue, and feeling hopeless. Most often the kind of depression people experience due to lack of sun is seasonal affective disorder where a person's mood drastically changes along with the seasons and sun exposure. Seasonal affective disorder is very prevalent in parts of the world that don't see much sun or daylight throughout the winter but instead see mostly overcast, gray, rainy days. 
Vitamin D
Another huge reason sunlight affects people's mood is due to Vitamin D. Several studies estimate that about 95% of people in the Northwest and 1/4th of the entire population are Vitamin D deficient which may be a contributing reason to why we get so many more colds in the winter than in the summer. This vitamin is naturally produced by our bodies when exposed to the sun and is needed to combat depression and have better moods. To get the most Vitamin D, sit outside for at least 20 minutes a day to soak in the sun's rays. You will not get Vitamin D by sitting behind glass windows. Also, don't apply so much sunscreen. Sunscreen inhibits you getting Vitamin D from the sun by 95%!
Outside and Active
When it's constantly gray and rainy outside it's hard to get yourself to turn off the T.V. and get off the couch just to find yourself getting wet and having nothing to do outside in the bad weather. However, when it's sunny outside, suddenly you are overwhelmed with options of what you can do besides stay indoors. From going to the lake, going on a walk or bike ride, or just laying out in your yard, your mood is sure to be boosted once you go outside and do something active and get some fresh air.
There are many studies showing more sunshine makes you perform better at work and school. Workers who see more sunlight and regularly go outside are more efficient and accurate in their work and more motivated in their careers than those in areas of the office without windows and are sick 25-60% less than those who aren't exposed to the sun. Also, children who are exposed to the sun more often do better on test scores, are more motivated in school, and perform 5-15% better than their peers in darker schools who see less daylight.
So listen to your body when it tells you it feels overall better when it's in the sun and the daylight and try to get at least 20 minutes a day of sunlight to experience the most benefits.sunCredit: morguefile.com
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