What causes the summer lethargy?

June 30, 2023

Summer has arrived in the northern hemisphere, and whilst most people are looking forward to longer, warmer days, for some others, summer is not that ideal. Some people suffer from summer lethargy, a seasonal feeling of tiredness including multiple symptoms such as loss of appetite, languor, headache, dizziness, etc. According to experts, summer fatigue is mainly caused by the long exposure to the sun many people experience during summer. Since the duration of the sunlight is longer, the melatonin onset is impacted, affecting our sleep. Also, the higher temperature of summer makes it harder for the body to maintain a balanced internal temperature. This extra effort can leave you feeling more tired.

Feeling tired in summer is so common in many regions, that in countries like Japan, they even have a name for it: Natsubate. Natsu stands for summer, and bate comes from the word bateru, which means ‘having trouble moving due to feeling exhausted. When these factors start compounding, you can fall into the “vicious cycle of summer lethargy”, which entails worsening physical condition.

In addition to physical fatigue, disturbance of the autonomic nervous system and malnutrition are also major causes of summer lethargy. Summer lethargy can worsen when your autonomic nervous system becomes unbalanced due to insomnia from sleep discomfort, indoor-outdoor temperature differences, etc., as well as when you are malnourished from dehydration and loss of appetite.

How to beat summer lethargy?

Besides sleeping more if your body asks for it, nutrition is the key to cope with summer lethargy. A body affected by summer fatigue is like a car without petrol. You need to replenish your energy to keep functioning well. A well-balanced nutritional intake is important. Primarily focus on carbohydrates and proteins, which are energy sources, and B vitamins, which convert carbohydrates into energy.

Keeping yourself hydrated is another major key point, especially during the hottest peaks of the day. Drinking enough water and choosing refreshing snacks and beverages – avoiding alcohol and caffeinated drinks if possible – is key to helping you stay hydrated throughout the day.

Last but not least, limiting sun exposure and always protect your head and your skin.