How much sun should I get daily?
It really depends on – skin color, location, prior exposure, time of the year - but this is our general guideline for daily sun exposure. Following this will optimize your circadian rhythm and provide you with the necessary amount of vitamin D for better health.
Early morning sun – watch the sunrise for 10-20 minutes (for resetting your circadian rhythm)
Midday sun – if new to sunbathing, start at 3 mins. Gradually increase to 10-15 mins on front, and same on back (best time for vitamin D)
Late afternoon sun – watch the sunset for 10-20 minutes (also best for your circadian rhythm)
Why is the early morning and late afternoon sun good for your circadian rhythm?
Being at its furthest point from you, the sun’s higher energy wavelengths, UV and blue light, are weak. Why so, is because these wavelengths are being scattered and filtered by the atmosphere, making them less harmful when they reach you.
For most people it’s possible to stare at the sun as it rises, letting it enter your eyes directly. This is the most beneficial light for your circadian rhythm, because it activates your suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), located in the hypothalamus in the brain, and is your body’s master clock. This clock sets the rhythm for hundreds of other body clocks to function, collectively known as your circadian rhythm. Sunrise resets it, sunset completes it.
When and how long?
The general rule is to watch the sun for the first 10-20 mins after is rises over the horizon, and same time before it sets. This practice has been around for centuries and is known as sun gazing. If you are just starting out and the sun seems too bright to look at directly, look slightly away, letting the light still enter your eyes. Starting at 2 mins a day, build up your tolerance slowly, and eventually your eyes will adjust and you’ll be able to stare directly at the sun, to get the maximum benefit.
What about midday sun exposure?
The midday sun is the best time to get your vitamin D. At this time, the UV is at the highest level, making it beneficial for synthesizing vitamin D, but it’s also the most harmful time, so you need to be careful and not over-do it. Listen to your body. If it feels uncomfortable, then it’s time to stop.
If your skin is light, with lower melatonin content, and you are new to midday sun exposure, start with 3 mins, adding 3 mins every day. Eventually you can increase this to about 10-15 mins on your front and same on your back.
If you skin is darker, with higher melatonin content, double this exposure time, starting with 6 mins, reaching between 20-30 mins on each side.
Listen to your body
Regardless of these times be guided by your body. If it doesn’t feel comfortable, get out of the direct sunlight, especially the midday sun, and find shade.