Do you ever feel your energy levels are lower than usual, during the summer? Do you feel restless most of the time, especially on hot days?
When it’s hot outside, I find it hard to focus. The motivation to be productive is very low. So I thought of looking into how our body adapts to higher temperatures than we’re used to and what we can do to keep cool.
Feeling more tired as it’s hotter outside is not a simple coincidence. Exposure to higher temperatures for a long time challenges our body’s ability to regulate our overall temperature. This is especially true if we aren’t used to hot weather for a long time, which applies to countries that are cold for most of the year often located in the Northern Hemisphere.
What does science say about feeling tired?
Science suggests that, during the summer, the body is trying hard to keep it at a normal temperature despite the hot weather around us. This process takes energy and leaves us feeling more fatigued than usual.
Furthermore, this is connected to how the body undergoes a process called vasodilation to make you cool off. This consists of dilating our blood vessels to make our blood flow easier near the skin. Therefore, this ensures the warm liquid becomes colder as it travels throughout our body.
Moreover, when our body tries to keep us cool it uses more energy than usual. This energy is mainly provided by glucose in the form of carbohydrates.
The role of Glucose
Glucose is also found in other food groups, like protein and fat, but these two are not processed in the same way as carbs are.
Carbohydrates are completely processed into glucose, which then alternates our blood sugar relatively quickly, whereas protein and fat don’t affect our blood sugar as much.
We take most of our energy from the glucose supply in our bodies. If we don’t eat enough or drink enough water, it worsens our fatigue levels and makes us feel worn out.
Body temperature and fatigue
Our body also keeps our temperature in check, thanks to sweating. Each of us has sweat glands and sweat exits our body through pores, which are small holes, all over our skin. As this liquid, which mainly consists of water, goes out of our pores, it evaporates and supports our body's function of lowering our temperature.
That’s why, especially when we are in an environment with high temperatures and sweating a lot, as well as when doing other activities like exercising, we need to drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration. This happens when our body expels more fluids than what we’re taking in, which more likely leaves us feeling fatigued.
Reasons for feeling tired other than high temperature
It’s also important to understand the difference between the words tiredness and fatigue. The NHS website makes this distinction claiming that feeling tired can be relieved “by sleep and rest” while fatigue refers to when feeling tired can’t be relieved by these two.
Besides high temperatures, various health conditions could also leave us feeling restless. Today, I want to focus on a common cause which is anemia. This is a condition that affects individuals who have iron deficiency. This can be detected with a blood test and doctors can prescribe you tablets that are stronger than what we buy over the counter at pharmacies.
One can also increase their iron intake by making a few changes to their diet. For example, eating more vegetables, like kale, plant-based sources of protein, like beans and pulses, as well as dry fruit.
Although tiredness can be caused by external factors, like high temperatures, and medical conditions, like anemia, feeling low on energy can also be a consequence of our diet. For example, eating too many refined carbs can lead to feeling worn out.
While it is true that carbs are in general a great source of energy for our body, eating refined ones causes our blood sugars to spike and subsequently crash very quickly leading to feeling exhausted over the long term.
Furthermore, when our energy levels feel low after the short peak of energy we get from refined carbs, we are very likely to reach out for more sources of this quick release of energy leading us to eat more of them.
A simple solution to this is to enrich our diet with more whole foods that contain a variety of cereals and/or products branded as ‘wholemeal’ and legumes that are also high in fiber. This allows our body to process them more slowly and therefore releasing energy gradually rather than all at once.
Get enough sleep
Lastly, a quite common cause of feeling tired is not getting enough sleep. The majority of adults would usually need between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep to let your brain properly rest from the day and give you enough energy to face the next day. The 360Wellness app is your perfect companion to track your sleep schedule with its Wellness tracker. You can download the app on your android or iOS and take the first step towards improving your sleep with us.
Some other tips are to place all technological devices out of reach from the bed at least an hour before you go to sleep. This allows you to switch off your brain from the light produced by screens, forcing you to stay awake.
Furthermore, try and read a book before going to bed, it can be a nice distraction instead of looking at your phone and, at least in my case, it helps me sleep better.
It is normal to be feeling more tired than usual during the summer.
Try and keep a bottle of water near you at all times to avoid dehydration and to replenish the liquids you’re expelling by breathing and sweating. Also, ensure you’re eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and cold dishes to keep you cool and not further increase your body’s temperature. Have a proper sleeping schedule with our Wellness tracker and sleep in an environment that is conducive to sleep.
What do you do to keep your cool during the hotter seasons? Share your experiences and tips in the comments!