Heatwave conditions are being recorded across the UK, with four consecutive days of temperatures reaching above 34C. Met Office forecasters are predicting more days of hot weather, with sunny skies, warm nights and mercury above 30C forecast for much of the UK.
Many Britons have been flocking to parks, beaches and spending time in the garden to make the most of the heat.
Beer gardens, seaside hotspots and green areas have been busy over the weekend, despite social distancing measures remaining in place.
This has triggered warnings from local councils after social distancing became impossible at some locations.
While many may be revelling in the warm weather, some may have noticed they are feeling significantly more tired.
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Why does hot weather make you tired?
With warm nights, very hot days and generally sunny weather, many Britons have been spending as much time outside as possible.
However, the hot weather can trigger a range of reactions in the human body – including tiredness.
And according to experts, this is due to how hard your body is working to regulate your temperature as the outside weather hots up.
Dr Michele Casey, the regional medical director at Duke Health in North Carolina told Live Science: “Your body, especially in the sun, has to work hard to maintain a consistent, normal, internal temperature.”
A number of bodily processes take place on a hot day, in order for the body’s internal temperature to be maintained at around 37C.
Your blood vessels dilate to allow more blood to flow close to the skin’s surface and release heat.
This is known as vasodilation and allows your blood to cool down – this is also the reason you may appear flushed when feeling hot.
Another bodily function is perhaps the best known during hot weather – sweating.
Sweating during warm weather allows the skin to cool down as the sweat evaporates.
However, according to Dr Casey, sweating causes your heart rate to increase as well your metabolic rate – which is the number of calories your body needs.
She explained: “All that work — increasing your heart rate, your metabolic rate — eventually makes you feel tired or sleepy.”
Another reason for tiredness can be dehydration, which can be triggered by being hot and sweaty.
When sweating, your body is exuding fluid, which if not replaced can cause dehydration, the symptoms of which are tiredness, headaches, thirst and a general feeling of being unwell.
Sun damage like sunburn can also cause dehydration as the skin’s cells work hard to repair the damage.
Dr Casey said: “These chemical changes actually cause fatigue. That’s because your body is working to repair the damage.”
Sunburn can also prevent the body from regulating its temperature, as the body diverts the fluid to the damaged area and gives less fluid for sweating, which can lead to dehydration and tiredness.
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So how can you combat heat tiredness?
Drink, drink, drink
The number one thing you can do is increase your intake of water, to replace the fluid loss by sweating.
Swap the coffee or cocktails for water to boost brain activity, help carry oxygen and nutrients around the body and generally rehydrate yourself.
When you sweat you lose electrolytes, which are important for several functions, including muscle and brain activity.
You can drink coconut water, milk, watermelon water or even look in your local pharmacy for electrolyte infused waters or tablets to boost your electrolytes.
Try to avoid excess alcohol as this can dehydrate you.
Protect your skin
With the damage sunburn can do not only to your skin but to your internal processes, on a hot day wearing suncream, covering up and not spending too much time in the sun is vital.
Make sure you regularly top up your suncream if out in the sun for a while, and seek shade if you feel too hot and bothered.
Placing a bottle of aftersun in the fridge can be a clever way to rehydrate your skin and cool you down after a day in the heat.
Cool baths and showers can also help to cool you down.
Avoid the peak heat
The hottest part of the day is typically between 11am and 3pm, and so the NHS advises to avoid being outside during this time where possible to avoid heat exhaustion.
Try not to exercise during this time too, as you can lose even more sweat and dehydrate yourself quickly.
One dangerous side effect of spending too much time in the sun can be heat exhaustion, which could lead to heatstroke.
The symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- a headache
- dizziness and confusion
- loss of appetite and feeling sick
- excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
- cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
- fast breathing or pulse
- temperature of 38C or above
- being very thirsty
If someone has heat exhaustion, the NHS advises to follow these four steps:
- Move them to a cool place.
- Get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly.
- Get them to drink plenty of water. Sports or rehydration drinks are OK.
- Cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good, too.
Stay with them until they’re better. They should start to cool down and feel better within 30 minutes.
The NHS warns you should call 999 if you or someone else has the symptoms of heatstroke.
Heatstroke symptoms include:
- feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water
- not sweating even though too hot
- a temperature of 40C or above
- fast breathing or shortness of breath
- feeling confused
- a fit (seizure)
- loss of consciousness
- not responsive
Heatstroke can be very serious if not treated quickly.
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