Let The Sun Shine In

If you think only plants need sunlight to flourish, think again.
Research now shows that sunlight is vital to our health.


 5 Good Reasons for being in the Sunshine

shadow-leavesI love the sunshine. I love the way it draws patterns on the ground when it pokes through the leaves of the trees; the way it lights the marigolds in my garden and makes them glow like burnished gold; the way it paints silver linings on white pillowy clouds towering in the sky; the way it flickers and flashes on windblown puddles after a quick summer shower; the way it warms my arms and toes . . .  sorry! I’m getting carried away. But I’ve got to say it again, I just love sunshine!

I know my love of sunlight has a lot to do with childhood memories. You see, I lived most of my life on the island of Barbados where I was born and there you can depend on no less than 11 to 12 hours of daylight, day after day, month pexels-photo-97558after month all year round, and more often than not the day would be bathed in sunlight – bright sunlight that burns a piercing white hole in the blue sky. Sigh! Nostalgia.

As a child it seemed as though the sun was always shining. How simple life was then, so happy, so exciting –living in a child’s world ruled only by pleasure and spontaneity. Climbing the neighbor’s huge ackee tree, reaching from branch to branch trying to reach the biggest bunch of ripe fruit; sitting in the shade of the manchineel tree, flying home-made kites on the open savanna, hoping that the cord doesn’t break and the kite go whirling off across the pasture; hiding between white sheets flapping on the clothesline in warm tropical breezes – I didn’t want the day to end and when it did, I went to bed reluctant but eagerly anticipating whatever joys the next sunny day would bring. So was life on Sunshine Island.

I always feel better on sunny days and recently discovered that is neither coincidental nor psychological. Digging into the topic and I found some info that really amazed me. It became clear that my mother’s insistence that I “get some morning sun” was, after all, scientifically valid.

So here’s what I found: (I don’t want to bore you with all the scientific details so I included links to the original articles just in case you want the full spiel.)

  1. Sunlight prompts your skin to make the all-important Vitamin D

smile-191626_640You probably already knew that. You probably also knew that you need vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth. But did you know that it is also very important for many other body functions? Sunlight . . .

  • boosts our immune system by making T-cells perform better – translation, less infections. Research even suggests a link between vitamin D deficiency and some autoimmune diseases. Could that be true?
  • helps our cardio-vascular system to work better. The heart muscles, blood vessels and all the other nuts and bolts of our circulatory system depend on vitamin D to work at peak levels.
  • lessens symptoms of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

“Sunshine is the easiest and healthiest way to get vitamin D – the “Sunshine vitamin” – which is almost as vital to life as oxygen.”  Top 10 Home Remedies

 

  1. Exposure to sunlight can help you sleep better at night.

Sunlight sends our brain the signal to produce melatonin – the hormone that helps us get a good night’s sleep. Now that I can really use. Melatonin also regulates our circadian rhythm – our sleep-wake cycle. I just hate it when I am laid up in bed and doze off a few times during the day and then, lay awake all night trying to count sheep, but forgetting which number I’m on and having to start all over from the beginning! 

 

  1. Sunlight “lifts your spirits”

i-feel-good– puts you in a better mood. That is because of the natural lift you get from the feel-good chemical serotonin that our bodies make when we are exposed to the sun. Serotonin also

  • controls appetite and helps digestion, and that can promote weight loss (or not)
  • helps memory and learning
  • regulates body temperature and some social behavior (nobody specified which).

 

  1. Sunlight exposure can lower blood pressure.

A compound called nitric oxide is responsible. This one I knew absolutely nothing about. Apparently, it is a chemical that causes blood vessels to widen. That means it can

baseball-bajun-photos

  • lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. That also affects stamina, fitness and muscle development. In addition, Nitric oxide can
  • lower the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Wow!

 

  1. Direct sunlight has a cleansing and healing effect.

It can

  • clear up some skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and acne. It can even help heal minor wounds. It seems that sunlight kills not only air-borne bacteria and those on the skin, but those inside the body as well. “There is nothing better than sunlight and fresh air to kill germs,” my mother always said – never any differentiation between bacteria, fungus or virus. Getting some sun was a part of her cure for almost every ailment and “sunning” floor rugs, pillows and mattresses was essential to a keeping a clean house.

If you want to look at it another way, lack of sunlight is linked to:

  • depression
  • poor quality sleep
  • increased risk of infection
  • heart attack and stroke,
  • obesity
  • many autoimmune disorders
  • increased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • increased risk of many cancers (especially breast and colon cancer)

And the list goes on – but I’ll stop here. It’s beginning to look too depressing – maybe I could use some sunlight just about now. 

“People who have more sunlight tend to live longer even though their population gets more skin cancer.”  Daily Mail

georgie-bundle-2
On the move with a georgie bundle

Okay – not saying that you should pack up your georgie bundle (West Indian word that means a small bundle of possessions) and move to Barbados – or Florida – and spend your days basking in the sun. You can’t ignore the risks of over-exposure and skin cancer. So moderation is the key. Most sources suggest 5 to 15 minutes of direct sun exposure (no sun-block) in the early morning or late afternoon hours. And you may want to check the warning on any medications you may be taking. I take a couple that strongly advise against prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Now I am not one to believe everything I read on the internet, but I had to admit that the articles seem well researched AND, more importantly to me, they support my mother’s practices. She was just “an ordinary housewife” practicing the customs her mother passed down from her mother, but it seems to me that our forefathers – and foremothers, intuitively knew these things. Well it just goes to show “mother knows best” after all.

So what about you? I would love to hear about some of your childhood or adult sunshine memories – maybe what you enjoy doing on bright sunny days. What about your favorite Sunshine Song?

My Top 3 Sunshine Songs

bob-marley-156544_640Sun Is Shining –  Bob Marley

augsburg-1175879_640Here Comes the Sun – Beatles

plaque-551789_640A Place in the Sun – Stevie Wonder

References

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Author: Juliette

A graduate of The University of Louisville, Juliette holds an M.Ed. and has been a teacher for over 35 years, specializing in Language arts, Reading and Math. She received two life-saving liver transplants in 2005 and now lives happily with her husband of 19 years in Louisville, Kentucky.

33 thoughts on “Let The Sun Shine In”

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  2. Loved reading your blog. I have actually never read a blog before. Yours is my very first one. I liked it and it was so good being able to connect with you again.

    1. Welcome to the world of blogs Mike and thank you so much for reading. I am glad your first experience was positive. Connecting with you is great. I Would love us to keep in touch.

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  4. Thank you Juliette for reminding me about having a relationship with the sun. You taught me about the quickness of the sun in your beautiful home land – jumping quickly into the sky in morning, diving rapidly, smoothly into the water at night.
    Can’t wait for the next posting, I want to know more about your mother. I wish I had known her.

  5. Hi Juliette
    I will follow your writings on this blog. I remember when you were away from school for a whole year. You came back smiling and ready to learn.
    I am still enjoying the sunshine in “Bim”.

    1. Thank you. And there I was thinking that everyone would have forgotten about that. I truly appreciate your friendship over the years.

  6. Well written article Julie. Not only have you set out sound advice, but your personal story gives very good context. This will be a great encouragement to others. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Juliette,
    I love your blog! Your story reminds me of my mother’s. She was very sickly as a baby. My grandmother wasn’t sure she would survive. In fact, she was so sickly that one of my mother’s aunts prayed that the Lord would take my mother. I’m so glad God didn’t answer that prayer! My mother turned 90 this year and is in great health for her age.

  8. Great job julie. I love it..
    Sunny days are my favorite as well. I love dawn, when the sun just peeking over the horizon, and dusk, when its sneaking away.
    I think about the times i cut school to go to the beach. (happy times..despite the beating)😂.one of my favorite songs is..I’m walking on sunshine.
    Thanks for the memories

  9. Well done Julie.
    Reading your memories about our connection to and dependence on the sun make me feel so close to you as it takes me back to my own childhood and how it affects my ‘now’ actions- so often I admonish my grandson (who would be shut up in his room with a game or cell phone attached to his face) to get out, go out in the patio and get some sun in his body.
    I also remember saying to a friend that when the sun go down the gremlins (worries of the moment) come sit on my bedhead, but in the light of day (when the sun come up) it all seems easier. Seems like the tears and most fears, go away with the rising of the sun.
    Thanks for your reminder of how Blessed we are in the Caribbean, especially we in ‘Bim’.

  10. Growing up in the East, watching every morning from my bedroom window, watching the roses and hibiscus awake. Butterflies flickered about the flowers bringing that warm feeling as the sun rose higher. Rolling from one side of the bed to the other trying to escape the ray of the sun as it spread across my bed.
    Mind you, I never wanted to feel the rays against my skin.
    I never been a sucker for the sun.
    As you mentioned earlier my mum too would say to me sick or not “Avril get up let the sun hit you and see how much better you feel.”
    The times when I actually got up, sat at the back door or the patio, my body, mind and spirit felt renewed.
    Now I am older and wiser I can appreciate what I call nature’s care more.
    Reading your article is very enlightening. I never knew the sunshine had so much benefits for vital health.
    This article is very informative.
    Thanks for the knowledge and inspiration Julie.

    My favorite sunshine songs
    John Denver Sunshine on my shoulder.
    Jason Mraz Sunshine song.

    1. So glad you found the information informative. We have a lot in common! I have to check out that song by Jason Mraz. I don’t recognize it but I do love “Sunshine on my Shoulders.

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