Grumpy, irritated, and sweaty. That just about sums up most folks lately, including me. The weather has been oppressively hot. With temperatures expected to stay in the triple digits for a few more weeks, we all just need to chill out.
Reading an article in Psychology Today magazine, I learned that the saying “hot and bothered” is a real thing. People can get ornery and downright aggressive when the weather heats up.
Why is that? According to experts like Dr. Jeff Borenstein, president of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, the increase in our body temperature causes our heart rate and blood pressure to rise as our body tries to cool itself. This increase in physiological workings is linked to aggressive behavior.
A two-year study, done by criminologist Ellen Cohn, found an increase in crime rates mirrored the increase in temperature. The study took into account that hotter temperatures in summer meant more people were on vacation, leaving homes empty and giving more opportunity for crime to occur, but still, overall crime rates went up.
While most of us will not be engaging in criminal behavior, we may be more likely to honk at the person that cuts us off in traffic (or if we are honest, flip them off) if it is a blistering hot day versus a cool, crisp day.
Heat rage comes about from a combination of things, not just hot weather. When it is hot, many people are under-hydrated or dehydrated. A study done on females in 2012 showed that with mild dehydration the subjects had difficulty concentrating, were easily fatigued, and became tense.
The solution? Drink more water, less coffee. Sorry. I like my coffee, too. But I’ve been drinking a lot of unflavored sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime and I find I enjoy it so much more than plain water.
Along with hydration issues, people often have difficulty sleeping in hot weather. Not getting enough sleep makes for a cranky day, as we all can attest to. I liked the solutions proposed by Marianna Kilburn, a mood and sleep advisor with A. Vogel.
Kilburn suggestions on ways to keep cool at night and get a better night’s sleep included eating lighter dinners. Things like fish, fresh salads, and fresh fruits are all easy to digest and don’t make the body work to process them.
Also suggested are cool, not hot and not cold, showers that allow the body core temperature to cool down. Hot and cold showers both make the body work to bring the body temp back to normal.
As for the bedroom itself, Kilburn suggests keeping blinds and curtains closed during the heat of the day to keep the bedroom cool. At night, limit the number of light bulbs burning at any one time, as they give off heat.
Bedsheets and covers should be made of breathable, natural fibers such as cotton and linen to help keep cool. Sheets made of synthetic materials hold heat and contribute to a sticky, hot feeling at night.
Her final suggestion: don’t wear socks to bed. Feet help regulate body temperatures, so keep them uncovered. She even goes as far as advising folks to stick their feet outside of any sheets or covers to help keep cool.
With this heat, dinnertime can be quite a challenge. Yes, I’ve been doing lots of grilling outside to minimize the time spent over a hot stove. But stepping outside to tend to the grill can be like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. So, salads. Yes, we’ve been eating lots of salads. And fruit.
I found a great recipe in, of all things, the Ninja Blender 50-Recipe Cookbook. This week’s recipe is a delicious, cool, hydrating way to get a serving of fruit. It takes 5 minutes (honest!) and is the quickest way to chill out this summer.
Coconut Pineapple Sorbet
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. agave nectar or honey
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 frozen ripe banana
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
Place all ingredients into a blender in the order listed. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately.