It is something we all learn from the earliest days of school. We need sunshine to live a healthy and radiant life. What’s not taught (or we don’t just remember it), though, is how much sunlight we need. There’s no one correct answer to this. Our bodies change as we grow older. Therefore, our needs change as well. This change includes how much sunshine we should get.
How much sunshine do seniors need? How much sunlight is too much? Can we get too much sunlight? If so, what are the repercussions? Let’s answer these questions today!
Why We Need Sunshine
First off, why do we need sunshine in the first place?
- Skeletal Structure Protection
Medical News Today says that sunshine is the body’s primary method of obtaining vitamin D. Vitamin D, in turn, is one of the body’s primary vitamins for absorbing calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals. In addition, vitamin D is good for the maintenance of bones.
Sufficient sunshine contributes to preventing the development of osteoporosis or bone fracture.
Vitamin D production is all the more critical for the elderly. Researchers at the University of Warwick noticed that vitamin D deficiency is common among the elderly. They associated the trend with the natural aging process and lifestyle changes. The lack of vitamin D among seniors is closely related to heart diseases, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance – which can lead to diabetes.
But it doesn’t stop there. Many sources say that sunshine helps in preventing the development of heart and other body diseases. It is because exposing the body to sunlight increases the number of white blood cells. White blood cells are the first line of defense against viruses and diseases.
- Better Sleep
Sunshine helps seniors develop a more regular sleeping pattern. Sunshine is the most circadian rhythm-friendly source of light. What does this mean?
The circadian rhythm, in a nutshell, is part of the body’s internal clock system. It is a 24-hour cycle that carries essential functions, including sleep. Some aspects of light affect the circadian rhythm. For example, the sun’s warm and bright light signals the brain that it is time to be awake and active. Conversely, the absence of sunshine can help signal to the body that it’s time to rest and sleep.
- Energy Levels
Enough sunlight contributes to the effective delivery of oxygen to the entire body through the blood. Thus, it powerfully increases the body’s energy levels.
- Happiness and Mental Health
The sun increases the serotonin output levels of the brain. Serotonin is a happy hormone. It is known to boost the mood and helps a person remain calm and focused. Without enough sunshine, the body’s serotonin levels dip. The lack of serotonin is a common cause of depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
How Much Sunshine Do Seniors Need?
Now that we’ve discussed just how important sunshine is, we need to know how much of it we need.
It depends on a lot of factors. First, of course, our biology determines our sunshine need. Our complexion, diet, medical history, and age are the most significant factors. But even our geographical location concerning the sun also matters.
However, the most agreed-upon range by professionals is 5-15 minutes daily. If you have a dark complexion, 30 minutes might be good. It’s advisable to speak to a doctor about this if you’re not sure. For seniors, the numbers are pretty different. Health professionals suggest 5-10 minutes of sunshine 2 to 3 times a week offers the healthiest benefits. The recommended time to do it is early morning when the sun is not too hot. If you need to stay in the sun for longer than the suggested time, wear sunscreen and a hat.
Why is There a Limit to How Much Sun Exposure We Should Get?
Too much of a good thing is terrible. That’s a commonly accepted truth. But, unfortunately, it seems that it is also a universal truth that even applies to the sun. Sunshine delivers countless benefits that are irrefutable. But it also presents dangers when are exposed to it for too long.
These dangers are:
- Skin cancer
Of the risks associated with excessive sun exposure, skin cancer is the scariest. In the United States, skin cancer is the most common cancer. And its number one cause is overexposure to sunlight.
How can sunshine cause skin cancer? Sunlight has ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light has radiation. Exposure to the radiation of UV light causes skin cancer, among other health concerns. It also causes sunburn, wrinkles, discoloration, and loss of elasticity.
It is why it’s essential to wear sunscreen or a hat when overexposed to the sun. However, it’s also critical to remember that direct exposure to the sun’s rays is essential, especially to those sensitive to sunlight.
There’s a Healthy Balance
Although exposure to the sun’s UV light presents a slight risk of developing skin cancer, experts agree that the benefits of small amounts of sunlight outweigh the risks. So as long as you expose yourself to the suggested healthy dose of sunshine, you should gain only the benefits and none of the risks.
Infinite Love Homecare offers its services to help better seniors get the most of the sun’s light. Our highly trained staff can make sure that seniors get enough sunlight. They can also ensure that seniors are well-protected from the dangers of too much sunshine.
Whatever your senior parents need, Infinite Love Homecare is ready to assist you. Whether you need care in your own home or care in a board and care facility – we got you covered. We offer free consultations. You can reach us at (949) 529-4130. You can also message us via our Contact Us page. If you need details on what our services are, see our Services webpage