By Munirah Al-Fayez
KUWAIT: As temperatures reach more than 50 degrees Celsius in Kuwait, people might find it challenging to go about their daily lives. However, there are perks to living in such a sunny country, Dr Shaikha Al-Mutawa told Kuwait Times. Exposure to the sun is extremely beneficial in increasing vitamin D in a person’s body, according to Dr Mutawa. “A person should be exposed to the sun for 20 minutes daily, while they are wearing short sleeves, so they are sure that their body is fully able to absorb the sunlight,” she said.
Dr Mutawa explained that doing this will increase vitamin D, which will lower a person’s risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. The best time to be exposed to the sun, says Dr Mutawa, is in the afternoon before the sunset. With all the benefits of the sun, Dr Mutawa says that we still need to put on sunscreen, drink water, and not get immediate exposure to the sun at noon. Research has found that that being exposed to the sun also affects our cognitive functions.
A study done by researchers in the US and published in 2009, suggests that “among participants with depression, low exposure to sunlight was associated with a significantly higher predicted probability of cognitive impairment.” The study also explained that the lack of natural sunlight might lead to “altered serotonin levels, neurodegeneration, depression, cognitive deficits, and ultimately dementia.” In addition, the study has also found that there is a relationship between sunlight and serotonin, melatonin and cerebral hemodynamic.
SAD, a mental condition that causes depression during the winter and is less severe during the spring or summer, is associated with the shorter daylight hours during the winter. Many people with this condition, according to researchers, use light therapy, to improve their wellbeing, but it appeared that light therapy also improves their brain functions.
Exposure to sunlight also has a positive effect on a person’s mental health and general wellbeing, according to a study done by researchers in Japan and published in 2022, which studied the effect of sunlight exposure on people during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. “Exposure to sunlight, spending leisure time in green spaces, and physical activity each had a positive impact on people’s mental health, including depression, anxiety, and stress states,” the paper reads.