Why Do We Experience Heat Exhaustion And What Can Help?

Tiredness in the heat
24. June 2024

Summer is exciting and encourages outdoor activities. On hot days, however, we sometimes feel tired and weak. Heat exhaustion is a completely normal protective function of the body. It signals us that we need a rest. Keep reading to find out why high temperatures can affect your circulation and why drinking plenty of fluids can often help to overcome fatigue.  

Heat exhaustion: Did you just not sleep well?

Eating ice cream, sunbathing by the lake, and barbecues with friends - summer offers plenty of highlights. And yet, instead of being able to truly enjoy the beautiful weather, we are often overcome by a strange listlessness on particularly hot days. Heat exhaustion is a well-known phenomenon. If you feel tired, you may initially think that you simply slept badly. And as a matter of fact, a good night's sleep is important to keep us in optimal health and allow our bodies to regenerate overnight. But if you feel groggy during the day in summer, it's not always due to a lack of sleep. Instead, the high temperatures can often put a strain on your body. 

Why does summer heat affect our circulatory system?

Our body is constantly striving to maintain a balance that ensures all metabolic processes function optimally (homeostasis). That includes our core body temperature, which is kept at a constant level of around 37°C. If it starts to get too hot in summer, our body initiates a cooling reaction to prevent us from overheating. By dilating the blood vessels or causing the muscles to tremble, the body releases heat. Because our blood pressure drops during this process, our brain is supplied with less oxygen, and we feel a little light-headed and tired. At the same time, the body stimulates our sweat glands to produce more sweat. While this cools our skin, it also leads to a loss of fluids and important mineral salts. If we don't compensate for this deficiency, the dehydration makes us feel even more tired and listless. To avoid having to work even harder, all this stress encourages your body to use as little energy as possible by moving around. So instead of working off energy playing volleyball outside, we prefer to make ourselves comfortable in the hammock at home and cool down with some delicious summer drinks.   

Is it normal to have headaches when it's hot?

Headaches in the heat

Were it only heat exhaustion that thwarts our summer outings, a little rest could give us new energy. But for many people, a heatwave is accompanied by a lack of concentration, headaches, and circulatory problems. These are often caused by the aforementioned lack of water and minerals. However, people with certain pre-existing conditions tolerate the heat worse than healthy people and have to contend with more severe symptoms. Cardiac patients should take particular care in summer due to the additional circulatory strain. People who suffer from migraines should also make sure they drink enough water. Fit and health-conscious people often feel safe because their bodies are trained and better adapted to certain stresses. Nonetheless, recreational athletes are also among the risk groups that can feel particularly tired in summer. Exercise in the heat causes our core body temperature to rise sharply, which is exacerbated by a dehydrated state. If you love exercise and sports, you should definitely drink enough before your training session. 

Tips and tricks to protect your body in the heat

Keeping your body temperature at around 37°C is a strenuous job for your body. Extremely hot days in particular demand a lot from it, meaning heat exhaustion is completely normal. To help you feel full of energy again and enjoy summer at its best, check out some tips and tricks to give your body a helping hand. The following tips will help you keep a cool head during the next heatwave: 

  • Stay hydrated: You're probably tired of hearing by now how important it is to drink enough in the summer. However, it's not just about how much you drink, but also about your choice of drink and its temperature. On hot days, we often intuitively reach for iced soft drinks as we expect the cold drink to cool us down. In reality, this can make us even more tired and listless, as our body has to work harder to adjust the temperature of the drink to our core temperature. Furthermore, after a quick energy boost, the sugar contained in soft drinks gives us an energy crash about half an hour later, making us feel even more drained. To avoid breaking a sweat and enjoy stable energy levels, you should therefore mainly opt for lukewarm water or unsweetened herbal and fruit teas. You can also try out our refreshing summer drinks
  • Regular exercise: People who exercise regularly not only strengthen their immune system, but also train their body to cope better with stress. Endurance sports are considered particularly beneficial for strengthening the cardiovascular system. However, be sure to adapt the sport to your individual exercise limit. For example, there are certain cardiac sports groups for heart patients in which appropriate exercises can be practiced in like-minded company. 

Doing sport

  • Consciously savoring treats: The occasional cold beer after work with colleagues or a delicious glass of red wine over a romantic dinner are part of summer. However, you should consider indulgent drinks as an exception and not let them become a daily habit. Alcohol makes us tired. But if you think this will help you sleep better, we regret to disappoint you. Alcohol and sleep do not go well together. Alcoholic drinks lead to superficial and restless sleep, so that you feel poorly rested and particularly tired the next morning.  
  • Elevate your legs: To relieve the strain on your circulatory system in summer, you should take a break from time to time and put your legs up. This allows the blood to flow back to the heart more easily. 

Put your feet up

  • "Cool" clothes: Summer is a particularly fun time to experiment with your own style and different colors. However, many fashion chains offer clothing made of synthetic fibers that stick to the body and make us sweat even more. A better option are airy fabrics made from cooling natural fibers. Linen, for example, is a real classic in summer and has a pleasant cooling effect. Silk and cotton are also a good choice if you want to stay cool during a heatwave.   
  • Light summer dishes: Listening to your body when eating is equally important in summer as in other seasons. Most people intuitively prefer light dishes such as fresh fruit or crunchy salads when temperatures are high. Those dishes not only give you more energy, but also help you sleep better. If your digestive system doesn't have to put that much energy into digestion in the evening, you'll be able to rest better and enjoy a more relaxed night's sleep.  

Photo credits:

staticnak1983 / canva.com
aldra / canva.com
blackCAT / canva.com
Valeria Blanc / canva.com

Tags: summer, sleep quality
Categories: Good Night