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

Photo: Stocksy/Clique Images
Ever feel as if your thinking power tends to dwindle every summer? Well if so, you may have a natural reason to explain your seasonal brain fog. Sky-high temperatures that mark the time of year in many parts of the northern hemisphere are responsible for a whole lot more than adding beads of sweat to the back of your neck whenever you walk outside. The heat can also contribute to you feeling sluggish inside, and a cooler thermostat setting might be your only salvation of mental function and physical comfort. The good news is research exists that points to the best temperature for productivity.

A small 2018 study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, analyzed how 44 college-aged students fared throughout a Boston heat wave in different temperatures. Of the participants, 24 lived in dorms with central air-conditioning set at 71°F, and 20 lived without AC at about 80°F. Over a 12-day period, participants completed two cognition tests daily, which measured their attention, processing speed, cognitive speed, and memory. The results provided evidence that the inside temperature plays a role in brain function: 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, then, the researchers were able to pinpoint the best temperature for productivity to be 71.6°F.

Need some tools to cool down your space? We've got you covered here, with six chic units that get the job done. Sweltering summer heat shouldn't have anything on you and all your goals.

Originally published July 18, 2018.

Oh hi! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts for cult-fave wellness brands, and exclusive Well+Good content. Sign up for Well+, our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.

Loading More Posts...