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Does the Heat Make You Sleepy?

The summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy nature. I love going to the beach and park during the summer, but even though our days are longer – my evenings are shorter due to summer fatigue. After being out in the sun all day I often just want to come home to take a nap! Have you ever noticed how tired you are after a long day in the sun?

If you’ve ever felt drained and exhausted after spending a day at the beach, there is an ACTUAL reason why. It is a fact that long hours of sun exposure can make you feel tired — however, I’m sure it’s not why you think. Just to be clear, you haven’t overdosed on Vitamin D. But it could mean that the following factors have set you up to feel exhausted and drained after taking in some of those beautiful rays of sun.

  1. Temperature Control.

Your body works hard to maintain a consistent internal temperature. When you’re exposed to direct heat while spending time in the sun, your body ends up working overtime to try and keep you cool. Your heart rate and metabolic rate can increase too. All this extra physiological effort can make you feel tired or sleepy, even if you’ve just been sitting in the sun tanning.

  1. Dehydration.

The sun can quickly dehydrate you, even if you’re just laying on a beach blanket. This goes back to the fact that your body is working hard to stay cool. In addition to this, you may be losing fluids and salts through sweating. Fatigue is one of the primary symptoms of dehydration, which can increase your risk of heat exhaustion.

  1. Chemical Changes.

It’s common knowledge that the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate the skin and cause damage (such as sunburn, pigmentation changes, and wrinkles). The cascade of chemical changes that produce these effects can also cause fatigue after hours in the sun.

To prevent sun-induced fatigue from setting in, avoid spending extended periods of time in direct sunlight during the day’s hottest hours and seek shade whenever possible. Drink plenty of water while you’re outside, and consider having a salty snack (like pretzels) to replace the salts you’ll lose while sweating—but again, remember to drink plenty of fluids! Try to strike a balance between being active and resting. It also helps to wear a hat or sit under an umbrella to reduce the amount of direct sunlight that’s directly on you.

If you’re like me, you’ll probably still want to take a day nap but beware…naps aren’t for everyone. A nap that is too long or too short can really throw off your sleep schedule.  And while a nap that’s just right can help you feel refreshed, napping can also have negative effects, such as:

  • Sleep inertia.You might feel groggy and disoriented after waking up from a nap.
  • Nighttime sleep problems.Short naps generally don't affect nighttime sleep quality for most people. However, if you experience insomnia or poor sleep quality at night, napping might worsen these problems. Long or frequent naps might interfere with nighttime sleep.

Again, stay cool, hydrated and well rested this summer and we're sure it will be a good one!

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