Career Advice

Brain Fog Making It Hard to Work? Blame the Heat Wave—Seriously

Tehrene Firman

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If it seems as if your thinking power tends to dwindle come summertime, don’t blame your favorite adaptogens for losing their brain-boosting abilities. Rather, turn your glare to the heat. Those high temps aren’t just responsible for transforming your locks into a frizzy, sweaty mess the second you step outside—they also make you feel sluggish inside, and a cooler thermostat setting might be your only salvation of mental function and physical comfort.

A new small study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, followed 44 college-aged students throughout a Boston heat wave; 24 of them lived in dorms with central air-conditioning set at 71 degrees Fahrenheit, and 20 lived without AC at about 80 degrees. Over a 12-day period, participants completed two cognition tests daily, which measured their attention, processing speed, cognitive speed, and memory. The results showed that the inside temperature definitely played a role in how well the brain worked. Students living without AC performed 13 percent worse on the arithmetic test than those who did have AC and also gave fewer correct responses per minute by 10 percent, as study co-author Joe Allen, DSc, tells NPR.

The Goldilocks of temperatures that leads to the highest productivity level is 71.6°F.

Those results fit right in with what an earlier study deemed to be the Goldilocks of temperatures—AKA not too hot, not too cold (because you can actually be allergic to the frigid air, BTW), but juuust right—that leads to the highest productivity level: 71.6°F.

The 2006 study dug deep into the effect higher temps have on office employees by conducting a meta-analysis on 24 studies that focused on work performance in professional settings. The results showed that when the employees’ environment became hotter than the mid-70s in degrees Fahrenheit, their performance plummeted, further indicating that excessive heat really does put a damper on brain function. Using the same cross-examination of studies, the researchers were able to pinpoint that magical thermostat number of 71.6.

So, go check yours temp meter ASAP. Doing so could mean all the difference between riding the struggle bus to lethargic city every day and being the #girlboss you know you are. Sweltering summer heat shouldn’t have anything on you and all your #goals.

Here are 18 pairs of summer-friendly lightweight leggings that won’t make you break a sweat. Plus, here’s how sex can boost your productivity at work.

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