When the season changes to summer, lots of other things change, too. The days get longer. Your weekends get busier, filled with picnics or barbecues or concerts outdoors. It might surprise you, but your body actually changes in the summer, too. Not in the way that it looks — though that might change, too. But your body actually goes through a bunch of adaptations and reactions to the seasonal weather changes that you might not know about.
Does the sun make you sleepy? There’s a reason for that. When it’s hot out, your body has to work extra hard to regulate its body temperature. To keep cool, it dilates your blood vessels, secretes sweat, and ramps up your heart rate to increase blood flow. All that extra labor can wear on you, making you feel lethargic. If you’re always tired regardless of the weather, though, one of these reasons could be to blame.
According to the Mayo Clinic, your blood pressure is generally higher in the winter and lower in the summer. Cold weather constricts your blood vessels, increasing the pressure, while warm weather opens them back up. But that doesn’t give you license to go ham on foods loaded with sodium — don’t overdo it on the foods that could send your blood pressure through the roof.
Colds actually really hate the cold. The chillier the weather, the more quickly your body will fight off the infection. This could have to do with your immune system — in the summer, you’re more likely to engage in activities that weaken your immunity, such as over-exercising or not getting enough sleep. However, it’s likely that colds last longer in the summer because different seasons expose you to different kinds of bacteria. Rhinoviruses, for example, thrive in cooler weather, while the enterovirus is more common starting in June.
The sun gives your body more than just a nice tan — it also delivers vitamin D, an essential nutrient for your health. Vitamin D activates the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which can stave off depression and boost your mood. But you shouldn’t rely on the sun as your only source of vitamin D. Try eating more of these foods to make sure you don’t get a deficiency.
Many people think that seasonal depression only happens in the winter. But approximately 10 percent of people who experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) actually feel more depressed in the summertime. According to WebMD, some physicians believe that the longer days and summer heat might play a role in the onset of symptoms.
You might think that the longer days and rays of sunshine that come with summer would increase your productivity. But research shows that the opposite is true. According to a 2012 study, bad weather made for more motivated workers. But on sunny days, productivity plummeted. Additionally, research has shown that hot weather makes people sleepy and slow. As a result, people probably get fewer things done.
Finding the ideal sleep conditions for your body takes some trial and error, but there are some hacks for better sleep that work on everyone. For instance, did you know there’s an ideal temperature for promoting sleep? It’s colder than you might think — according to the National Sleep Foundation, 65 degrees Fahrenheit makes for the best quality rest. In the summer, it’s unlikely your room ever cools down to this temperature, unless you’re blasting the air. As a result, many people experience difficulty falling and staying asleep this time of year.
There are all kinds of reasons your skin might flare up. Food can cause breakouts, you can break out because of hormonal changes, and even the drinks you choose to hydrate with can affect your skin. The season makes a difference, too; while winter can cause breakouts due to dry skin, summer can cause breakouts for the opposite reason. When you sweat, your irritants like dirt and oil glom onto your skin. These substances can creep into your pores and cause blemishes.
If you were sitting outside, stationary, doing absolutely nothing in both the summer and in the winter, your heart would beat faster in the summer. Seriously. It’s unclear whether you’d burn more calories, but your heart does have work way harder to pump blood through your body. That’s because when you are even slightly dehydrated — which, in the summer, you probably are — your blood volume starts to decrease. With less blood to work with, but the same amount needed throughout your body, your heart has to work double time to keep up with the demand.
Get ready to experience stomach pains, Charlie horses, and other aches. Since it’s summertime, you’re probably sweating more. And when you sweat, you deplete your body of water, causing a sodium imbalance — the perfect storm for painful muscle cramps. Make sure you stay hydrated so they don’t bring you down.
This doesn’t happen to everyone, but in extreme heat conditions some people may experience heat edema. Blood vessels dilate, which can cause blood to pool in your extremities. Your feet, hands, and lower legs could appear puffy and swollen as a result. That’s a symptom you should not ignore — it could be an early sign of heat exhaustion.
Your speedy heart rate, lack of deep sleep (which can lead to weight gain), and prolonged heat exposure can all mess with your head, causing dizziness and confusion. You might find yourself getting a head rush more often or feeling extra forgetful. Talk to your doctor if it’s getting severe.
Summer weather brings with it all kinds of joys — like blooming flowers and lots of green grass to picnic in. But all that lush plant life can cause allergies to ramp up. If you’re sniffling and sneezing to the point where you can’t stand it, try one of these natural allergy remedies to make it through.
There are a number of ways to ramp up your metabolism by altering your habits; but the seasons can make a change, too. According to the Cleveland Clinic, your body adapts to the winter by increasing insulin resistance, meaning it holds onto more energy from your food. In warmer weather, your metabolism kicks back up. If you’re worried about your metabolism, however, you may want to avoid these bad habits — they can slow your metabolism way down.