While most people love summer, its warmth, tropical drinks, and all the good things it entails, we can’t deny the relaxing and calming vibe that the cold weather brings. As the temperature drops, most of us love staying indoors, curled in a ball with a blanket or sipping a steamy cup of hot beverage — true happiness, indeed.
On the other hand, the colder months also bring about various illnesses, such as colds and flu. Fortunately, there are several ways to stay protected against the disadvantages of cold weather.
The sudden drop in the temperature can increase your risk of illnesses and other complications. It can also adversely affect your energy level and sleep.
The autumn ushers in a change in your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle caused by a decrease in the amount of sunlight you’re exposed to during the fall months.
The abundance of sunshine in the summer helps your body to create melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates sleep. Melatonin keeps your body clock (also known as the circadian sleep rhythm) running like a finely-tuned machine. Less sunlight during the colder months means your body isn’t producing as much melatonin.
Furthermore, when you aren’t getting as much vitamin D from the sun’s rays during the colder months, it can lead to feelings of sluggishness and even depression.
During cooler months, people tend to spend time indoors, including malls, stores, and restaurants. The more people flock to indoor areas, the faster flu, colds, and coughs spread. Another reason viral diseases spread so quickly during colder months is that viruses are more stable and can stay in the air longer in a freezing environment.
When you inhale cold air through your mouth, the nerve endings located in the back of your throat are triggered, causing arteries to narrow. Likewise, cold weather is considered a vasoconstrictor, meaning it contributes to the narrowing of blood vessels. When you’re feeling cold, your heart works harder to keep you warm, which increases the risk of a heart attack.
This condition happens when the body temperature drops below 35˚C. According to Dr. Suzanne Salamon, an instructor at Harvard Medical School, “Even prolonged exposure to mild cold can cause it.”
So, what can you do to make sure that you’re staying healthy even with the fall months seemingly working against you?
Cold weather has its good and bad impacts on our physical and mental health, but a better understanding of how it affects our body will help us combat its harmful effects.
Enjoy the beautiful fall season and keep healthy!