Dubai: As winter sun destinations go, Dubai is among the most highly ranked places in the world. With temperatures hovering in the early 20s, it’s that time of the year for residents and tourists alike to make the most of the outdoors. And now, the ongoing ‘World’s Coolest Winter’ campaign provides that much more reason for everyone to soak in the sun.
The soothing winter sun, no doubt, can be enjoyed throughout the day, but exposure to sunlight the first thing in the morning is said to be highly beneficial.
Dr Khalid Shukri, Physician and Anti-Ageing and Regenerative Medicine Expert, at Wellth, a Dubai-based wellness centre, says morning sunlight has various health benefits since it affects the body’s internal clock, hormone control and overall mood.
“Try to go outside within the first hour of waking up and spend about 30 to 45 minutes in the sun. Do not wear sun visors or sunglasses because you will not get the benefits of being exposed in the morning sun if you have these on as they will filter the light. The sunlight early in the morning is less intense. Taking a walk during this time provides you with both sunlight and exercise. You could also enjoy your breakfast outside if you have a patio or a terrace,” said Dr Shukri.
“Those who get plenty of natural light throughout the day have an easier time falling asleep at night. Poor sleep and sleep problems are significantly linked to vitamin D insufficiency. When you get direct sunlight on your skin, you make vitamin D. Getting some rays (safely) not only improves your mood but also prepares you for a better night’s sleep,” said Dr Shukri.
Getting outside in the morning is more than simply basking in the light; it’s also about getting your body moving. Going for a walk or doing some exercise serves as a wake-up call for your body. It increases cortisol, which is a natural energy enhancer,” he noted.
Morning exposure to natural sunshine helps in the regulation of our circadian rhythm, also known as the body’s internal clock. “Our bodies are naturally in harmony with the rising and setting of the sun. Exposure to sunshine in the morning helps to reinforce this synchronisation. Bright morning light also boosts the creation of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to emotions of well-being, happiness, and general mood. Higher amounts of serotonin can help you feel more positive and alert throughout the day,” he said.
The previous edition of the campaign saw significant progress over its first edition, registering an eight per cent increase in tourist numbers in its third cycle, reaching 1.4 million. The campaign’s global reach extended to 190 million people, with content views hitting 159 million.
The doctor added that natural light has been shown to enhance focus, concentration, and overall productivity, particularly in the morning. “This is especially useful if you have tasks or commitments that demand mental clarity early in the day.”
He said even if the sky is overcast and cloudy, sunlight filtered through the clouds or rain can still have its benefits.
Skin health gains
The effect of morning sunlight on the skin is also said to be very positive.
According to Dr Mariam Al Shamsi, Consultant Dermatologist from Healthpoint Hospital, “Exposing oneself to the morning sun is crucial as it promotes optimal skin health. Morning sunlight helps regulate circadian rhythms, influencing skin repair and renewal processes during sleep. This exposure aids in vitamin D synthesis, essential for skin integrity, and the lower intensity of morning sunlight minimises the risk of harmful UV damage, contributing to a healthier complexion.”
Dr Al Shamsi said the recommended sun exposure time varies based on factors such as skin type and location. “Morning sun exposure differs as the sun’s angle is lower, reducing the intensity of harmful UVA rays."
The higher proportion of blue light in the morning sun can also have positive effects on skin, promoting collagen production and potentially improving certain skin conditions, she added.
Effects of sunlight exposure on specific skin conditions
Psoriasis: Sunlight, particularly UVB rays, can help manage symptoms by slowing down skin cell turnover.
Vitiligo: Controlled sun exposure may help even skin tone by stimulating repigmentation in areas affected by vitiligo.
Eczema (Dermatitis): Sunlight can have anti-inflammatory effects, which may benefit individuals with eczema, although caution is needed to avoid triggering flare-ups.
Acne: Sun exposure can temporarily improve acne by drying out excess oil. However, this effect is often short-term, and prolonged sun exposure can lead to other skin issues.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa: Some individuals find relief from symptoms of this chronic skin condition through controlled sun exposure, although this varies among patients.