Why We're Less Productive In The Summer

How heat and humidity have an impact on our productivity.


A colleague of mine (who reads this blog!) often engages in friendly spats with me over the ideal temperature. Her favorite being in the vicinity of hot car and mine being frozen food section. We typically agree to disagree.


My husband just made the comment to me the other day, "Oh, good. You're getting happier now that the weather is getting cooler." And he's absolutely right. Come April I start dreading the heat and humidity that starts to creep in during the spring and summer months here in New England. I've often joked with friends and family that I have HAD - heat affect disorder, similar to SAD - seasonal affect disorder, that most people get in the winter.


Well, I'm here to report that there is such a thing! And I'm feeling more justified as to why I'm so irritable during summer months, why I lose all steam when it comes to completing projects and why I become a recluse sitting in my house with the AC blasting.


According to this Live Science article, we get cranky when it's hot. Having more difficulty sleeping, being dehydrated, and having restricted activities makes us feel pretty bad. This article even states that SAD can affect people during other seasons besides winter. See, I was onto something when I was telling people about my HAD!


But enough about my mood and well being. Here are some hard hitting facts which might explain why you too just can't get your productivity out of first gear in the warmer months.

  • Economists have noted an interesting finding that in hotter years, the economic output of countries goes down. (And guess what? Climate change will only exacerbate this effect. Yikes!).

  • Research has shown that productivity drops by as much as four percent per degree when temperatures rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Studies have shown that working in hot environments can cause strain on the body including; fainting, hyperthermia, kidney disease or acute kidney injury.

  • We're less helpful when it's hot. A 2017 study found that retail workers were 50% less likely to engage with customers when it was uncomfortably hot outside.

  • Criminologists have known for years that there's a link between heat and violence as murder and other violent crimes spike during summer months.

  • Heat waves have been proven to be associated with higher levels of depression, lower concentration, increase sleepiness, and higher drug and alcohol abuse.

  • The relaxed ease of summer seems to be a myth as scientists have proven that stress hormones spike when the temperatures rise.


Given these stats, it's easy to see why if you didn't have the most productive summer, there are real reasons to account for this. I try not to beat myself up during the summer months (or other people for that matter - #kiddingnotkidding) as I know the season will pass.


Now that fall is on the horizon, I'm starting to get my Git 'Er Done mojo back! I hope this is true for you too.


Do you struggle during the summer months?

Do you have any suggestions for me to deal with my SAD/HAD during the warmer months?

Please let me know!