What Happens to Our Health During the Long Winter Nights?
Believe it or not, the time of year can play a role in human health, both positively and negatively. While there are a number of things to look forward to from November through January, it’s also beneficial to be aware of the health effects one might experience during the winter.
By being aware of health changes that commonly occur in the colder months, individuals can take more effective steps to protect themselves, as well as notice when something doesn’t feel right.
Let’s take a look at common health changes that you may experience during the winter.
Health Changes You Might Experience During The Winter
Cold and Flu
During the winter months, people tend to spend more time indoors, often in close quarters with others. Because of this, when one person becomes sick with a cold, flu, or other respiratory illness, the virus spreads more quickly to people nearby.
In addition, the cold and dry air that’s common in winter can reduce a person’s resistance to illness by weakening the immune system, making it easier to get sick.
Dealing with dry skin is a common issue that crops up during the winter, which can be brought on by the dryness of the air. Both indoor and outdoor winter air is usually significantly less humid in the winter than it is during spring, fall, and summer, which makes it easy to pull moisture from the skin.
On top of the constant dryness in the air, people typically do not remain as hydrated as they should during the winter. They may avoid drinking water because the coldness is unpleasant during already chilly weather, but this lack of adequate hydration exacerbates already dry skin.
Interrupted Sleep Cycle
The sun sets earlier in the day during wintertime, making nights longer and colder than any other time in the year. As such, the decrease in daytime light, the heavy evening meals, higher stress levels, and difficulty keeping your home at a comfortable temperature can all interfere with healthy sleep cycles.
Colder weather tends to reduce sleep quality and as a result, people feel sleepier throughout the day during winter.
Increased Heart Attack Risk
Winter can increase an individual’s risk of having a heart attack, especially when working outside in the cold. Low temperatures not only constrict the blood vessels, but the heart also has to work harder to keep the rest of the body warm enough to function. These conditions can easily increase a person’s blood pressure which can make a heart attack more likely, especially if a heart condition already exists.
Less sunlight, less time in the day to perform activities, and the sleep disruptions that can occur during wintertime can also affect a person’s mood. People are more likely to feel tired, physically and emotionally drained, or even depressed during the colder months.
In some cases, the effect that winter has on a person’s sense of wellbeing can develop into what’s known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
To combat the harsher elements of wintertime, it’s a good idea to take steps toward improving your health. Take vitamins, eat healthy food, stay hydrated, and be mindful about how you feel as springtime approaches.