The winter weather can wreak havoc on your hair, skin, respiratory system, and beyond. Between the drop in temperature and lack of moisture in the air, your body begins to dry out. Thus, you should adjust your habits to accommodate for these changes. Scientist Karen James recently explained why it's important to hydrate in cold weather, in a series of fascinating tweets.
Why The Cold Weather Is So Harsh
James took to Twitter and dropped some knowledge bombs about the type of environment you're really in during the winter, revealing that "our houses are basically small deserts" because of the lack of humidity. First, it helps to know what an appropriate level of moisture in the air is. Most of us feel cozy somewhere between 30 and 50 percent humidity. Go too low and the results can be dry skin, lips, and hair, scratchy throats, dry noses, itching, chapping, colds, and the chills (even in higher temperatures). Low humidity can also cause problems for your home's woodwork and furniture. High humidity can lead to condensation on windows, wet stains on walls, mold, musty smells, rot, severe structural damage, and bugs. Heat stroke, allergies, and asthma are also concerns.
Takeaway? Finding the right level of humidity is important. So, what's the deal with the humidity in the winter?
The problem isn't so much what's happening with the weather outside. This is because although it's cold, it's still relatively humid. For example, right now, in New York City, it's 21°F with 59 percent humidity. Frigid? Sure. But the humidity is still in a good place, meaning you won't dry up into a sad little raisin.
The problem, though, arises when you crank up the temperature inside your home, because the humidity plummets. During the winter, the humidity in your home can go as low as 10 percent, well below the aforementioned 30 to 50 percent range — putting your health and home at risk.
Why does the humidity drop so low, though? In the summer, the air is warm and can hold more moisture, so the humidity is higher. In the winter, however, cold air contains far less moisture.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can combat this.
Interesting Ways To Stay Hydrated
The most obvious solution is to drink more water, a no-brainer but even more important in the winter. Because it's so much cooler, your level of thirst might decrease, meaning you don't feel thirsty; but that doesn't mean your body doesn't need water. Plus, staying hydrated can help you keep your immunity strong and healthy — a definite plus when the nasty winter colds and flu start circulating. There are a few more steps you can take to stay hydrated in the winter, according to James.
You might also consider bringing some houseplants into your humble abode. Essentially, plants are nature's humidifiers. When a plant absorbs water through its roots, the water travels up the plant and is eventually released through small holes in the leaves as water vapor — this happens with around 90 percent of its water, in fact. This is called transpiration. The process is crucial to help plants pull water all the way from root to leaves, and it also means that as plants "sweat," they boost humidity in your home.
A few more tricks for increasing humidity naturally?
- Prepare your tea in a kettle on the stovetop, as opposed to microwaving the water. This will release more moisture into the air.
- On a similar note, do more stovetop cooking — boiling water has the same effect as your tea.
- If you take a bath, keep the door open and allow the water to cool down to room temperature when you're done.
Hydrating in the winter is a must because of the drop in humidity, which can lead to all sorts of complications with your health and your home. Be mindful of the weather and stay safe.