Sunny Days


| 5 Comments
Is the sun really as bad for us as they say? Yes, too much of it can be bad. However, sun exposure is actually good for you. From a very young age, I've always been told to wear sunscreen before I go to the beach or if I were to spend a long day outside. The harms of the suns rays to an extent include sunspots, wrinkled skin, and dreaded skin cancer. But there is another side to the story. Researchers have found that the sun is actually doing more good than harm. A lack of sun exposure has been associated with other forms of cancer, fertility problems especially in women with a lack of vitamin D, depression in many degrees, and an overall poor general health. Depression has been linked to a lack of sunlight, with symptoms such as fatigue, sadness and hopelessness. The most common form of depression linked with a lack of sunlight is called Seasonal Affective Disorder. In the winter seasons that have less sunlight in the day time, the symptoms are greater. Humans cannot escape the sun's biological effects when it comes to their moods. There is actually a relationship scientifically connecting sunlight, melatonin, and serotonin-- two neurotransmitters in the brain. Serotonin controlls "good moods" and feelings of being awake, and melatonin controls sleep. Antidepressants target serotonin, keeping higher levels of it in the bloodstream. So why are they all connected? When the sun rises, and the light hits a humans eye, (the optic nerve, specifically) some of the light is sent to a brain gland. This particular brain gland is in charge of melatonin, which is decreased as it responds to sunlight. When it's time for bed, melatonin levels rise again ... because the sun goes down.
At the same time this is happening with melatonin levels, the opposite happens with serotonin. Serotonin levels increase when the sun comes up. As the body is more exposed to  sunlight, the brain produces more and more serotonin, "feel good" hormones. 
The sun also provides vitamin D. As sunlight itself increases serotonin, vitamin D helps regulate the levels of this hormone. In the summer months, using sunscreen is only partially beneficial. If you are always in the sun with UV-blocking sunscreen, your body is probably not producing enough vitamin D. If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Depression, loading up on vitamin D sun exposure in the summer could potentially maintain high serotonin levels in the darker months. As for everything good in life, it is all about moderation. Scientists are not suggesting going to tanning beds, because artifical UV rays are NOT good for you. To keep up your supply of vitamin D, aim for about 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure three times a week [source: USA Today]. Stay happy, people.
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5 Comments

Gabrielle,
Awesome article! I couldn't love an essay more haha. Growing up with all sides of my family having history with skin cancer, I've always been nagged to wear sunscreen. And yes I understand it is good for you at times, but after reading your article I realized I probably saved up large sums of vitamin D to help me survive Penn State's annual bitter winter. I love your concept and can fully relate, here's an article that suggests great places to go for fun in the sun!
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Inspiration-g1-c1-World.html

It's crazy to think that something that you see almost everyday could really be that harmful for you. Especially with all the risks of cancer and what not. My parents would also always tell me to wear sunscreen all the time and not lay out tanning for too long because later in life I would probably regret it. I have also done so much research on this topic in high school along with researching how bad tanning beds can be for your skin. I admit I have gone tanning for special occasions like prom and such, but I try to steer clear of it as much as possible! Your article perfectly sums up the good and bad of sun exposure and I just wanted to share a link with you furthering the discussion! I thought this article on Tanning Beds was very interesting to read while also extremely informative.


Gabrielle,

I wish I could show this to my mom who is constantly nagging me about going out in the sun for too long without sunscreen. She does have good reason though, because she had melanoma skin cancer, which thankfully was caught at its early stages. In spite of this, I think that she should be going outside every now and then, because I do think she suffers from depression during the winter. She even bought a special anti depression light for the winter, which is supposed to help with ones mood. Although, if your information is correct, I think that this lamp is useless because my mom’s vitamin D is not effected. Could something as simple as vitamin D supplements be the trick without going outside and harming your skin? I would like to know if this is the simple solution. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/05/10/vitamins-and-supplements-do-they

Hi Gabrielle,

I loved your article! I have not went tanning in years because of spots I received from the bed. So obviously sun does have bad effects, but your blog made me think of a co-worker I had this summer. While working in Pittsburgh (which has terrible winters like here) I was surprised someone would want to attend the University of Pittsburgh when they are from Hawaii. She told me she loved the city but she became really depressed from the weather and had Seasonal Affective Disorder, better known as SAD after her first winter. I thought you would be interested in this, so here is a link to an article on SAD and the symptoms!http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195


Gsbrielle,
I found your article extremely interesting. As everyone else commented, you always hear how bad the sun is for you, but this article really expanded on how harmful it is to not have enough sun. I would have never known any of those interesting facts without reading your article. Personally, I love being out in the sun and I am definitely in the best moods when the sun is shining. Thanks for sharing! I found another great article about the sun making people happier, the link is

http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/sun-happiness.htm

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