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If you’re a human being living on this planet, chances are you’ve had some opinions about the weather. But the way weather affects you may go deeper than that: The temperature and conditions outside have a direct effect on how you feel physically and mentally, according to a growing body of research.
As extreme weather patterns become the norm — a reality of climate change —your well-being may also feel its effects.
If you notice a change in your overall mental or physical function with the fluctuation of the forecast, you’re certainly not imagining it. Below are some of the ways the temperatures outside can influence your well-being and overall behavior:
Sweeter dreams happen in a chilled environment. According to Natalie Dautovich, an environmental scholar at the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal temperature for sleep is approximately 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s because when your body temperature cools down, it preps your brain for sleep.
Inversely — and unsurprisingly — hotter, humid climates can disrupt your ability to get a sound snooze. Severe storms may also harm sleep quality because of the noise and lighting disturbances.
Take note, residents of Florida or Oklahoma. People who live in areas with intense weather events, like hurricanes or tornadoes, are at a greater risk for mental distress. While the storm is stressful as its happening, the aftermath of the event can also have a lasting psychological impact.
And, in fact, researchers are tying mental health issues directly to climate change: Approximately 200 million Americans may be exposed to increased psychological problems such as increased anxiety or substance abuse due to climate-related issues, according to a climate report from the National Wildlife Federation.
Spring brings on the sniffles for so many people, but if you get seasonal allergies this time of year, you know they are most aggravated when the weather is wet. Rain is known to wash pollen away, but storms first burst the pollen particles and spread the allergens further before cleansing the environment, allergist Warner Carr told The Weather Channel.
While it’s not a sizable impact, brighter weather could have a brighter psychological impact. A University of Michigan study found that people who spend at least a half an hour outdoors in pleasant weather (think spending the first warm spring day in the park) saw happier moods.
Seasonal affective disorder, a depression-related mental health issue, occurs most often during the winter months when the days are shorter and darker. Approximately 10 million people per year are affected by the condition, according to experts.
“For people who see a regular pattern every year of getting sad, anxious or a cycling of moods, the first thing they need to do is to see someone to get an overall diagnosis,” Michelle Riba, a professor of psychiatry and the associate director of the University of Michigan Depression Center, previously told HuffPost. “They need to treat the underlying depression.”
Beware of the dog days of summer. High temperatures increase your risk of heat-related health risks. Both dehydration and heatstroke can have an influence on your behavior and have the potential to cause brain damage if it’s bad enough, Brent Solvason, a Stanford University clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, previously told HuffPost.
No wonder you feel more relaxed in the summer months. Research shows blood pressure drops in the summer months compared to the winter months thanks to a change in atmospheric pressure. This is because lower temps cause your blood vessels to narrow, which could lead to a spike in pressure, The Weather Channel reported.
Moderate weather = Better mood? Research suggests there’s a link between temperate climates (think on the warmer side) and self-reported happiness. Places with hotter-than-average winters and cooler-than-average summers appear to boost residents’ mood. And who could blame them? Better weather means more opportunities to be outdoors.
Research from the University of Michigan suggests being outside on an enjoyable spring day could be linked to an increase in creative thinking.
“Being outside in pleasant weather really offers a way to reset your mindset,” said study researcher Matthew Keller. “Everyone thinks weather affects mood, but the biggest tests of this theory … found no relationship, so we went back and found there are two important variables: how much time you spend outside and what the season is. If you go from winter to spring and spend enough time outside, there’s a noticeable change.”
Studies suggest there may be a seasonal component to higher levels of human conception. An analysis in Europe found there is a 10 percent above-average increase in births during the month of March, marking the moment of conception around the month of June, Scientific American reported. The same research also found that men’s testosterone levels and women’s levels linked to ovulation spiked around this time.
While a cold can strike at any time of the year, there are a few factors during the winter that could up your likelihood of getting sick. For starters, research shows your immune system take a small hit in the colder months thanks to your body’s changing DNA that happens during the switch of seasons, Business Insider reported. Not only that, you’re trapped inside more often — aka in the land of germs — making it difficult to escape their wrath.
Hey — at least we’re closer to the toastier, happier days of summer, right?
See the full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/weather-and-health_us_570facd9e4b08a2d32b92ae9
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