Is the summer heat proving to be too hot to handle?
If so… you’re not alone.
Experts agree that summer heat increases irritability, sweating, dehydration and dry weather can influence people to flare up.
Basically, summer heat can make you cranky.
Studies have shown that people experience increased frustration and anger in the summer months. Exposure to hot summer temperatures increases your heart rate, which leads to discomfort. Being uncomfortable can affect how you express yourself and affect the way others interpret your words and actions.
A minor insult or a bump in a hot, crowded space may be perceived as a more serious offense if a person’s level of anxiety or discomfort is already heightened.
A study in Poland explained the scientific basis for this… cortisol, the stress hormone, is lower in winter, and the heat makes it go up.
The human body is adapted to a core body temperature of 98.6 degrees. Even the slightest increase can cause the body to function differently.
The ambient temperature also affects your brain because of a lack of oxygen in the regions of the brain that control your impulses, and as the body directs more blood to the skin’s surface in an effort to cool off. So emotions rise and calm-headed thinking drops.
And this is an issue that’s been studied for decades.
During the 1960s, the civil disturbances and riots that raged throughout the United States during the summer months gave rise to the journalistic expression “long hot summer.”
In a study in 2017, researchers looked at retail workers in a chain store, and found that they were 50 percent less likely to actively engage with customers when it was uncomfortably hot outside.
Another study looked at college students.
They divided the students into two groups. One group was put into a humid, hot classroom. The other was placed in a cool, air-conditioned room.
The researchers then had the students fill out a survey for an organization to help underprivileged people in the community, but only 64% of participants in the hot room agreed to answer at least one question, compared to 95% in the cooler room. This led the researcher to conclude that the heat really can affect your perceptions, emotions, and the way you behave toward other people.
Besides the cortisol… there are other theories as to why people get so worked up when it’s sweltering out.
For one thing, you’re more likely to get dehydrated when you’re hot. Dehydration definitely impacts your mood. A 2012 study looked at young women and found that after losing about 1.5% of their body’s normal water volume, the study’s participants were tired and had difficulty concentrating, and they were more tense and anxious.
Plus, being overheated can lead to heatstroke, symptoms of which include confusion, agitation and irritability.
Finally, hot weather is harder to escape. At least when it’s cold outside, you can put on more layers and bundle up. When it’s hot out, you’re doomed to be uncomfortable unless there is air conditioning. The heat can also make it hard to fall asleep. And we all know what happens when we don’t sleep well… grumpy!
So experts agree… try to stay cool, drink lots of water, get plenty of rest and listen to your body. Be aware of what your body is telling you. This way if you keep your cool, you might actually stay cool.
(sources: Getty Images, Live Science, Vanderbilt Studies)