UV exposure and wellbeing
Although the main reason why tanners use a sunbed is to gain a tan, exposure to UV can have other positive effects. This may be seen to raise spirits, aid skin conditions and alleviate aches, depending on the light spectrum used. Below, we have listed some of the most common positive side effects to UV exposure!
UV exposure, both from the sun and sunbeds provides tanners with UVA and UVB spectrums. This in turn, can help to encourage increased serotonin production. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be helped by increasing natural serotonin levels- a hormone created in the brain. Serotonin works to boost your mood, making it ideal for helping during the colder, winter months. What’s more, serotonin can also be seen to help people feel more calm and focused(2), making it beneficial for those suffering from anxiety and depression (1).
Alongside helping improve your mood, serotonin is also essential for regulating sleep. This, paired with melatonin, is essential for aiding sleep. Melatonin can also be impacted by UV, with optimal levels only being created with exposure to UV.
Therefore, as the sun isn’t out as regularly, and serotonin levels may lower and melatonin levels increase, it’s no surprise if you may find yourself struggling to get out of bed, feeling more tired during the day, and not being able to fall asleep at night. With this in mind, the use of a lightbox or UV exposure during the colder months may be a means of improving the body’s circadian rhythms, if time spent in the light is during daylight hours.
3. Lower blood pressure
When UV light hits your skin, your body releases NO (Nitric Oxide) into your blood (1). This works to lower blood pressure and also improve overall heart health. NO, combined with serotonin’s calming abilities combine to both help improve lower blood pressure effectively.
4. Increased vitamin D
“Studies have shown links between low levels of vitamin D and higher rates of numerous diseases since the body relies on sufficient sunlight for its primary systems to operate efficiently. Vitamin D is essential for optimal cardiovascular, immune, respiratory, and skeletal system function. […] Research is ongoing, but studies have indicated that sunlight may provide a significant protective effect for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, breathing problems, inflammation, and diabetes. Having higher than average vitamin D levels may even lower your risk of getting COVID-19.” (3) Vitamin D can also be linked with stronger bone and teeth development and calcium absorption.
Overall, this super vitamin can’t be underestimated in its value to the body’s overall immune system and wellbeing. Vitamin D can be created when exposed to sunlight, converting UVB rays into pre-vitamin D3, which is then processed and stored as vitamin D.
5. Aid skin conditions
Some affected persons may find that skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema worsen during the winter months. This may be attributed to skin being covered up, and lesser UV exposure, ultimately lessening vitamin D production. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation (4), “UV radiation has been used to successfully treat a number of diseases, including psoriasis, eczema and jaundice.” This furthers by explaining how different treatments harness UV radiation, with different effects. However, it does finish by noting the importance of avoiding overexposure, due to the risk of longer-term implications caused by burning and skin damage.