Normally, our bodies and our mind associate sunlight with daytime and activeness. This isn’t a surprise since our body is programmed to be in-sync with its day-night cycle, which comes in the form of our “body clock.”
But contrary to what most people think, the effects of being exposed to the sun and UV rays aren’t always positive. There will be negative side effects in some cases, especially when our skin is exposed to too much sunlight. The sun naturally produces ultraviolet rays, which can cause damage to most cell walls.
Still, most would say that the positive effects of being in sunlight will usually outweigh the negative effects. There are cases of individuals getting depressed over the effect that they aren’t getting adequate sunlight for an extended period. Thus, it’s apparent that sunlight will always play an integral part in our daily lives.
We must understand the effects of vitamin D and sunlight on our bodies. This will eventually help in our long-term physical and mental health and what we can do to protect ourselves when we’re getting “too much” sunlight.
But how much is too much sunlight? What are the different types of UV rays? What can we do to protect ourselves? We’ll be answering some hard-hitting questions that most people will think about.
Types of UV Rays
First, we have to determine how sunlight affects our body by knowing our UV rays work. But sunlight isn’t just comprised of one “wave” of UV rays but is actually comprised of visible and invisible rays of UV. Scientifically, longer waves of radiation (such as radio waves) won’t pose threats to individuals instead of more harmful waves, like gamma and UV.
UV waves are known for having shorter waves and can penetrate the earth’s atmosphere. Our skin produces pigments called melanin that can help the skin stop the effects of UV rays on the skin while protecting essential organs in the body. But even constant exposure to UV rays can break down melanin fragments for extended periods of time.
There are three types of UV light:
- UVA rays — This type of UV rays will usually have longer waves, which means that it can penetrate the middle layer of the skin. Most of the sunlight that we get to come in this form.
- UVB rays — This type of UV ray is “shorter” than the others. Although it might seem a bit more volatile than other rays, it can only reach the skin’s outermost layer.
- UVC rays — This is known for containing the most energy and is usually used by healthcare facilities and front liners to sanitize areas and destroy disease-causing microbes and virulent materials. This doesn’t necessarily reach Earth since it can be destroyed in the ozone layer before it reaches the surface.
Still, it’s important to note that our body isn’t “foolproof” when it comes to UVA and UVC rays. When you do get tanned from being exposed to too much sunlight, it’s because your skin is adapting by doing its job.
Advantages of Sunlight
Sunlight plays a vital role in a lot of natural functions of the body. Without sunlight, our body wouldn’t function when there is no circadian rhythm that will determine the daytime from the nighttime.
But what are some of the positive effects of it?
- A Major Source of Vitamin D — Just the right amount of UV rays can be a catalyst for vitamin D formation in the body. This vitamin plays an integral role in the formation of teeth, bones, and muscles. When most people stay at home, misalignment of the teeth can be quite common if there’s a lack of vitamin D in the body. Although the misalignment of teeth is usually attributed to a variety of different factors. Fortunately, there are different ways of ensuring that your teeth will remain aligned, such as a seamless Invisalign treatment.
- Treating Complications — UV rays are known for treating a variety of skin conditions, such as psoriasis. In some cases, this treatment is called “phototherapy” and is a great way of removing patchy and red skin.
- Treating depression — Normally, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is often caused by the lack of sunlight. Exposing yourself to sunlight right after waking up in the morning can help cheer you up!
Shortcomings of Sunlight
As compared to the positive effects, the “negative” effects of sunlight are more superficial in nature. But even though it affects much of the skin, most individuals will still need to ensure that their skin is protected from the sun’s harmful rays.
Some effects include
- Heatstroke and exhaustion — Although not related to skin damage, heatstroke and exhaustion are known for being life-threatening if left unattended. Without proper protection or hydration, most individuals can succumb to heatstroke.
- Eye injuries — When you’re out and not wearing proper sunglasses and eye protection, you’re going to be injuring sensitive parts of your eyes like the retina and cornea. This will usually result in sunburn of the eyes or photokeratitis.
- Skin cancer — Long exposure to UV rays can often lead to skin cancer. Although this is not necessarily caused by UV rays alone, 90% of cases are directly linked to too much sunlight exposure.
- Sunburn — Lastly, sunburn is one of the most common negative effects of sunlight. When UV rays. Although most rays won’t really reach the skin’s innermost layers, it is still possible if no protection is set in place.
Sunlight, in moderate amounts, can have beneficial effects on the body. But just like anything else, too much sunlight can often be detrimental to the skin and can be life-threatening in some cases. Still, it’s important to take breaks and enjoy much of the great outdoors when possible.