Feeling tired after the beach? It is almost as predictable as the rising and setting of the sun. You go to the beach, soak up some sun, take a stroll up and down the shore, relax a bit, and even have a few drinks. It’s arguably one of the most leisurely activities you could do, yet, when you get home, you’re exhausted. Why is this?
Not surprisingly, although you may not be lifting a single finger, the beach can drain you of all your energy, and that’s thanks to the sun. There’s little research to show that other factors such as the relaxing sounds of the ocean or the texture of the sand are to blame for this excessive beach exhaustion, although they could play a small role in your afternoon nap following that trip to the ocean.
It’s well known that the sun can zap you of your energy, and in the process also leave you with a nasty sunburn if you’re not careful. While there is surprisingly little research behind the post-beach blues, here are a few reasons why you may be craving an afternoon slumber after your trip to the beach.
Getting Too Much Sun Can Zap You of Your Energy, Making You Feel Tired After the Beach
We’re all familiar with what happens when we get too much sun. You go to the beach, forget that second coat of sunscreen, and end up going home looking like a freshly boiled lobster. It’s this exposure to the sun that leads most of us to feel completely wiped out after taking a trip to the beach.
However, aside from the risk of skin damage and skin cancer, getting too much sun can result in potentially dangerous conditions such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and even heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are conditions that are the direct result of exposure to high temperatures, particularly with high humidity, and some level of physical activity. If untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, which can be a life-threatening condition.
In normal conditions, your body can regulate its temperature, by means such as sweating, to maintain an internal temperature of around 98.6℉. Heat exhaustion occurs when your body loses the ability to cool itself, and your internal temperature (called core temperature) rises above 101℉.
When you suffer from heat exhaustion, your body loses its ability to cool itself properly. In hot weather, your body sweats to help regulate temperature. As the sweat evaporates from the surface of your skin, it takes heat with it helping to cool off your body.
When you expose your body to long durations of sun, without proper protection, you increase your risk of raising your internal temperature to a dangerously high level. This can be expedited by strenuous exercise or physical activity, such as running or playing on the beach.
As a result, your body may develop heat exhaustion, which can result in heat cramps, heavy sweating, fatigue, thirst, and even muscle cramps.
Heat exhaustion is easily treatable and can typically be remedied by getting fluids and spending some time in the shade cooling off. Most cases of heat exhaustion do not result in heatstroke and can often be the reason why you may feel as though you’ve just run a marathon when you return home.
If gone untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition where the body’s internal temperature reaches 104℉ or higher. People suffering from heat stroke require immediate medical attention to prevent serious health complications such as organ failure, brain damage, and even death.
Signs that heat exhaustion may be escalating into heat stroke can include a high body temperature (103℉ or above), headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and a fast, strong heartbeat.
Soaking up the sun can be a fun way to spend your Saturday afternoon, but it’s important to do so safely. Remember to always wear sunscreen, bring plenty of water, and remember to spend time cooling off or in the shade if you feel yourself beginning to overheat.
The Sun Stops the Production of Sleep-Inducing Chemicals, Which Resume When You Go Home
Another reason you may be feeling tired after visiting the beach can be quite surprising. The answer? Melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone released by the brain in response to darkness. It helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle (known as the circadian rhythm or internal clock) and is responsible for helping maintain a healthy night’s sleep.
The sun stops the production of melatonin, which then begins to increase as you leave and return home. While it may sound like the sun stopping your production of melatonin could make you less tired, when you leave and return to a more dimly lit location such as your home, this sudden increase in melatonin production is actually what makes you feel tired.
This same phenomenon is what causes people who live in areas like Northern Alaska, Scandinavia, and other parts of the world where there are nearly 24 hours of continuous daylight, to have difficulty regulating their sleep schedules.
How can you ensure you don’t feel zapped after a trip to the beach? Unfortunately, aside from staying home, there is no sure-fire way to avoid the post-beach blues, although some people handle them much better than others.
A few ways to minimize your chances of getting tired after visiting the beach are to drink plenty of fluids before and during your trip, avoid the hottest parts of the day, take regular breaks from direct sunlight, and ensure you get plenty of sleep the night before.
The Relaxing Sounds of the Ocean Can Also Make You Feel Tired After the Beach
While there is little evidence to support such claims as to the relaxing effects of the sounds of the ocean, you shouldn’t discredit it just yet. Many popular mobile phone apps like Calm, Aura, and Headspace, have cropped up everywhere over the last few years.
These types of apps use nature scenes and sounds for enhanced relaxation and focus. Among those sounds, many of these apps use soundtracks that include calming ocean sounds to help their users relax. While these apps do also provide their users with guided meditations, there does seem to be something behind the sounds of the ocean.
It’s unclear whether or not the sounds of the beach actually play a role in making you feel tired, but those sounds sure are relaxing. So, let’s not count them out just yet.
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