It’s that time of year. Where we exchange the hot, summer temperatures with the crisp, fall air. And while fall in Georgia is undeniably hard to beat, with apple orchards, football and colorful trees, many of us are still soaking up every bit of warm, summer sun that we can get. Although there’s no denying time outdoors is one of the best ways to spend any afternoon, it can leave you feeling pooped. Nap anyone?
Even with the energizing impact that fresh air and fun activities can have, a day in the sun never fails to leave you dog-tired and sprawled out on the couch. So, what is it about the sun that makes it so draining? And is there anything you can do about it?
It’s dehydrating. It may seem obvious, but it bears repeating. When you spend ample time outdoors, especially in the sun, your body runs through water quickly in an effort to stay cool. Not only does dehydrationlead to headaches and lethargy, it actually forces your heart to work harder, too, which is a recipe for exhaustion.
It throws your body out-of-balance. Whenever you sweat, your body loses water and salt. Replenishing your body with water is only part of the equation, though. In order for your body to maintain a balance of fluids, you need salt, too.
It overheats your body. Your body’s ideal temperature, to keep everything running smoothly, is 98.6 degrees. This means no matter how hot or cold it is outside, your body has to work to maintain this internal temperature. So, when you’re in the warm sunshine, your body uses extra energy and increases your metabolism just to keep cool.
It’s tough on your skin. Sunburns aren’t always bright red and painful. Even just a little pinkness after time spent in the sun can leave you feeling extra tired. This is because sunburns—mild and severe—up your temperature and have a dehydrating effect on your entire body.
It keeps you active. Chances are, if you’re spending time outdoors, you’re doing more than just sitting. And whenever you’re active, sunshine or not, your body releases the chemical, adenosine. This chemical, coupled with the other draining effects of the sun, provide a double dose of fatigue.
It’s natural. Your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle is regulated by circadian rhythms, which are driven by the rising and setting of the sun. When you spend your day in the sun, your body suppresses melatonin, the sleep hormone. So, naturally, when the sun goes down, your body begins making melatonin again and higher amounts of melatonin equals increased tiredness.
Can you beat the heat? The recipe to successfully tackle a day spent in the sun is pretty simple. Start with lots of water, a little bit of sunscreen, some time spent in the shade and a healthy amount of nutritious snacks. Oh, and don’t forget a visit to your primary care provider, too.
As the specialist that knows you best, your primary care provider will work to address all of your unique health needs, as well as improve your overall health. When you feel your best, you can spend more time doing what you enjoy—like having some fun in the sun.