Science Explains Why Summer Makes Us Lazy and Confused

Source: Matt Cardy/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The dazzlingly warm months are finally here, making us all relaxed, cheery, and... hideously unproductive? Many of us report a significant drop in productivity (and, er, activity) during the summertime, but the idea that the warm weather actually drives us to laziness has long been seen as a myth. Well, no more: recent research has proven that our brainpower slumps during the summer months, leaving us daydreaming for hours about the smell of grass, the blazing heat and...where were we? Oh, yeah: to find out exactly how summer batters our brains, keep reading.

Summertime, And The Livin' Is Easy

The dazzlingly warm months are finally here, making us all relaxed, cheery, and... hideously unproductive? Many of us report a significant drop in productivity (and, er, activity) during the summertime, but the idea that the warm weather actually drives us to laziness has long been seen as a myth. Well, no more: recent research has proven that our brainpower slumps during the summer months, leaving us daydreaming for hours about the smell of grass, the blazing heat and...where were we? Oh, yeah: to find out exactly how summer batters our brains, keep reading.

Heat Makes Us Slow Thinkers

Quick science flashback: thermoregulation (i.e. heating your body when it's chilly and cooling it when it's overheating) requires energy, which comes from glucose. When trying to cool itself down, the body uses up a hell of a lot more energy than when it's warming you. The body has only a limited amount of stored glucose, which we also need a lot of it for mental processing. So, during winter, there's more energy available to keep you sharp and alert, whereas during summer, there's far less. The good news: You now have an excuse to boost your glucose levels with ice cream.

We Stay At Work Longer During Bad Weather

A study of office workers in 2008 found that men spent an additional thirty minutes working during rainy days. (No word on women...) One might say you could explain that due to the fact it's, um, raining, but a follow-up study four years later found that people were quicker to complete tasks during gloomy days. And when Harvard researchers showed people pictures of both sunny and miserable weather, those who'd been shown pleasant outdoor photographs were slower and less productive.

Our Critical Thinking Faculties Drop In The Heat

To figure out how weather affects critical thinking, researchers approached more than a hundred undergraduates on both sunny and miserable days and asked them to listen to arguments for and against higher education. Some points were deliberately strong, others very weak. On sunny days, the confused undergrads couldn't decide which point was the stronger one; in nasty weather, they quickly understood which was the most valid argument. (We think that maybe they were just trying to run off to go sit in the sun, but we'll still go with the findings...)

We Like It Warm, But Are Miserable When It's Too Hot Or Too Cold

News alert: people don't like it when it rains. During a 2013 study interviewing people about their well-being in different climates, researchers found that — and we quote — "life satisfaction decreases with the amount of rain on the day of the interview." Warm weather has long been linked to elevated happiness levels, but when the temperature hits ninety degrees and above, happiness levels fall dramatically. The same study found that when it's too hot, you become as miserable as you would be after you were — again, we quote — "widowed or divorced." WIDOWED?!

So When Are We Comfortable?

So, what's the optimum level of heat for us humans — whom, as we've discovered, are quite picky about climate? Well, apparently if you take humidity out of the equation, then the perfect temperature is 27 degrees celsius, or 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Set your thermostat!