Australian summer months are notoriously hot, which can lead to a range of health problems, even more so with recent news of record breaking temperatures. Summer fatigue leaves people feeling tired, lethargic and/or sleep-deprived. So what can we do to avoid the summer's perils?
Question: What health problems are caused from the summer months?
Dr. Stephen Eddey: While most of us look forward to the sunny weather, there are some challenges we must face when the summer months roll by. Firstly, there are some obvious ones like sunburn and heat exhaustion from over doing it in the heat. Then there are other less obvious problems associated with the summer months, like a generalised 'summer fatigue'.
Question: What is summer fatigue?
Dr. Stephen Eddey: Summer fatigue is something that we have all encountered during the summer months. It is a hot day, and all you feel like doing is sitting there! Motivation for doing much is low and your cognition declines. In an earlier scientific report , research has indicated that at extreme temperatures, our cognition declines and in the work place especially. And maintaining a temperature range between 17-23 is ideal for work safety.
Question: How can we tell if we are suffering from summer fatigue?
Dr. Stephen Eddey: Simply ask them. Just ask how they are handling the heat? Some people love it, but most will readily tell you the heat is oppressive or words to that affect. Further questioning may also be able to locate the specific cause(s). For example, they may indicate they find it difficult to sleep in this heat or, the heat just drains them. Relatively simple tasks such as doing the lawns may become an issue or if you have an outside job like roofing... well, that would be tough!
Question: How can summer fatigue be treated?
Dr. Stephen Eddey: Treating the cause is the way to address this. It may even mean moving to a room in the house where there is air-conditioning so as you can get your 7-8 hours of optimal heat. You could avoid 'hot' tasks like gardening until near to sunset and switch your morning run to your morning swim. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids and of course, dress for the conditions and avoid the sun.
Question: What can we do to keep energy levels up in the summer months?
Dr. Stephen Eddey: While addressing the cause is the key for summer fatigue, there are some key supplements which can also help. Probably the best-known energy supplement is Ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is the reduced (active form) for CoQ10 and is a key nutrient in the mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cells). Along with this, Acetyl-l-carnitine and natural B vitamins are also excellent. And, it goes without saying but eat natural healthy foods like vegies, salads, meats, fish, fruit, nuts and seeds because junk foods may fatigue you. Keep up the cool water and avoid hot drinks like coffee.
Question: How can we stay cool, even when it's extremely hot?
Dr. Stephen Eddey: The best way to do this is to make the middle of the day your rest time. Pop the aircon on and do your house chores. If you don't have aircon, head to the shops during the heat of the day for 'free air-conditioning'. Another fun way to cool down is to obviously to hit the beach, but make sure you are sun-smart. It may be a great way to get some exercise while you are there.
Question: Do you have any advice on how to still get sleep during the hot-summer nights?
Dr. Stephen Eddey: OK, the air-con will do the trick, but if you don't have one, a pedestal fan popped on low is a low-energy way to sleep. Use cotton sheets and make sure your room is dark and quiet and free of electrical devises. Don't charge your phone beside the bed! On top of that, a nice camomile or valerian tea an hour before bed is a great idea. Failing that, melatonin taken 30min before bed is a great way to sleep (you may need a prescription from your GP). Failing all of these, you may need to speak to your doctor about mild sleeping tablets, just to get you through the hot nights. 10mg of Temazepam is a good one but remember, this is a last resort and should only be taken sparingly.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash