As the weather turns from summer to fall, to winter to spring, and back to summer again, you may start to notice that your behavior changes as the seasons do. Have you ever noticed that you feel more motivated in one season over another or that there are some months in which you feel more tired than others?
If that sounds like you, you’re not the only one. There are numerous people who find that their behavior and ability to function at the peak of their abilities changes as the weather does. While some weather conditions can make you happier, others can leave you feeling tired.
Can the Weather Make You Feel Tired?
Yes, the weather can leave you feeling tired and lethargic. Which season affects you the most differs from one person to the next – some people find it difficult to get out of bed in winter, while others find that the summer sun leaves them feeling utterly exhausted by the time they get home.
Additionally, it’s important to note that some people don’t react to weather changes at all or find that the effects are incredibly minor. So, if you can’t pinpoint a change in your emotions to the weather, don’t worry – though the change in the seasons can affect a person mentally and even physically, at the same time, it is not a phenomenon that affects everyone.
Why Does the Weather Affect Your Mood?
While the effect of weather on fatigue hasn’t yet been studied extensively, there are some factors that may explain why your mood changes with the weather – one of which is barometric pressure.
Barometric pressure is essentially the air pressure in the atmosphere, which is why it’s also called atmospheric pressure. As the pressure drops, the weather changes—specifically, you’re more likely to see stormy weather, cloudy skies, and increased precipitation. On the other hand, higher levels of barometric pressure have been associated with more stable temperatures.
However, this change in pressure affects more than just the weather. Some experts suggest that it can also affect the human body by increasing joint inflammation and causing joint pain. This is because, as the pressure falls, force is transferred from the air to your joints.
There is extensive research to support the fact that chronic pain can affect the sleep hormone melatonin, making falling asleep a difficult task and also making you feel more tired when awake.
Additionally, other research shows that people with chronic diseases such as fibromyalgia and migraine disorders are affected by weather changes caused by a change in barometric pressure, including experiencing greater discomfort and more frequent migraines.
Pain, discomfort, and frequent migraines are all associated with a disturbed circadian rhythm, all of which can feel tired but struggle to fall asleep as the weather changes.
Why Does Rain Make You Feel Tired?
There are a number of anecdotes explaining that the rain and rainy, overcast days can result in people feeling more fatigued and sleepier than usual. If you’ve found yourself wondering why you can’t seem to stay awake long enough to enjoy the experience of a rainy day, you’re not alone.
Rain makes you feel sleepy because of the lack of sunshine on rainy days. Lower levels of sun exposure result in your body producing lower amounts of serotonin and higher amounts of melatonin. For people who take melatonin to help with a good night’s sleep, it’s clear what this means – higher melatonin production results in sleepiness and fatigue. The sound of rain can also produces white or pink noise which can make you feel relaxed and tired. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why rain makes you fall asleep faster.
A lack of vitamin D heightens the effect of melatonin, and an overcast sky means you aren’t getting regular levels of vitamin D from sunshine. Additionally, the higher humidity outside means your body has to work harder to keep you cool, which means it uses up more energy than it usually does—resulting in you getting tired faster than usual.
Additionally, the “earthy” smell and the sound of rain – the same things you look forward to on a rainy day – can be very soothing and help you feel more relaxed and sleepier, which is why people struggle to stay awake on days like this. In fact, this is such a common phenomenon that you can find apps that allow you to listen to the sound of rain to get some shut eye.
Read also: Why do I sleep better at the beach?
Why Does Winter Weather Make You Feel Sleepier?
Like rainy days, there are numerous reasons the onset of winter months can make you feel tired, sleepy, and generally lethargic.
Winter months, like rainy days, generally involve shorter days and longer nights. Sunlight plays an integral part to regulate our circadian rhythms—that is, our bodies’ natural sleep-wake cycles. The lack of the sun affects this cycle by promoting melatonin production in our bodies. As mentioned above, higher melatonin levels result in greater levels of drowsiness.
As with rainy days, the lack of sunlight also means you experience a lack of vitamin D in your body. Lower levels of vitamin D are associated with poor sleep, resulting in fatigue.
Vitamin D deficiency is a major concern in countries that see overcast winters, and many doctors advise incorporating a vitamin D supplement into your diet, especially during the winter.
Read also: Why do I feel sleepy around my partner?
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Additionally, winter tends to see the onset of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in many people. SAD is a mental health disorder that results in low mood and can cause fatigue, social withdrawal, and depression. It is also associated with lower levels of energy. SAD is generally triggered by a lack of sunlight, and people with SAD will notice symptoms starting as early as the fall.
One of the major symptoms of SAD during winter and fall is oversleeping and tiredness. If your fatigue is associated with SAD, you’ll need to talk to your physician about treatment options, which can include light therapy and medications.
Keep in mind that SAD is not limited to the fall and winter and cold weather in general. Though significantly less common, there are people who have seasonal affective disorder during the spring and summer and find that their symptoms resolve in the fall and winter. However, summer-onset SAD has different symptoms, including insomnia (rather than oversleeping), irritability, and anxiety.
Does the Heat Make You Tired?
As we’ve discussed, one of the primary reasons that the monsoon and winter can result in greater fatigue levels is the lack of natural sunlight. Given this factor, it stands to reason that you’ll have normal energy levels during the summer and spring, correct?
Not necessarily. As mentioned above, different people react differently to changes in temperature. It is possible that you’ll see no changes in the colder, darker months of the year but find that the heat leaves you feeling exhausted.
Higher heat and humidity levels mean that your body has to work harder to maintain your normal body temperature. You’ll notice these changes as the weather becomes warmer with the onset of the summer months. Your body reacts and you’ll start to sweat more, and your blood vessels will dilate, allowing blood to flow closer to the surface of your skin and making you look flushed. These processes take up energy – energy that you cannot use in other parts of your life. This excess energy usage may leave you feeling drained and lethargic.
Additionally, exposure to the sun can cause physical damage to your body, such as sunburns. Even with mild sunburns, your body needs to use a massive amount of energy to fix the damage, leaving you feeling fatigued and tired.
This excess energy usage is why hydration is the answer to staying energetic in summer. This doesn’t just mean drinking more water but also replenishing essential nutrients and electrolytes through coconut water, watermelons, and sports drinks. These elements act as a natural energy replenisher, giving your body the energy it needs for key functions and ensuring you have enough left over to enjoy the sunny day.
How To Feel Less Tired During the Winter Months
While summer can be a trigger for some people, most people experience greater levels of fatigue in the winter and fall, as well as during the rainy season. While you can’t change the weather, it is possible to address these concerns and ensure you have the energy you need to get through your day.
- Make sure you get enough sunlight. While winter means lower levels of sunlight, you will generally have at least a few hours of sun daily. Try to stay outside and take in as much natural vitamin D as possible during this period.
- Stay active. Being active can help increase the quality of sleep, allowing you to sleep better at night and stay awake during the day.
- Try vitamin D supplements. As discussed, a lack of vitamin D during the darker days of the year results in greater fatigue because it does ultimately affect your immune function.
Supplements will help you overcome this issue. That said, always consult with your doctor before including new supplements in your diet. If supplements aren’t for you, it makes sense to try to increase dietary vitamin D by increasing your intake of salmon, cod liver oil, fortified orange juice, and so on.
- Consult your physician as well as a sleep specialist. If you think you have SAD, you should always get a medical professional involved. Additionally, if your fatigue is causing disruption to your regular life, speak to a doctor—there is a chance that the fatigue is caused by something other than weather changes.
Changes in weather can make you feel tired, and how your body reacts to changing temperatures will differ from person to person. There are tactics you can use to keep your fatigue to a minimum. You need to find a few useful sleep tips, know how to manage extremely cold and hot days, and take care of your body. However, it’s always best to consult a medical professional if you think you have a disorder or if your fatigue levels are derailing your daily life.