Extreme heat can negatively impact cognition and mood, with research indicating slower reaction times and increased anxiety during hot conditions. A study on young adults during a heatwave found those in warmer dorm rooms showed a significant reduction in test scores, while evidence suggests that the heat itself, rather than sleep deprivation caused by it, interferes with cognitive abilities.
- Research conducted during a heatwave revealed that individuals living in warmer environments performed worse in tests involving simple mathematical problems and color-word jumbling, with up to 10% reductions in response times and accuracy.
- Heat impacts cognitive function by lowering activity in the parasympathetic nervous system and reducing oxygen saturation in the blood, both of which help maintain calmness and focus.
- Productivity in workplaces and scores on standardized tests among high school students have been found to decrease in warmer conditions, suggesting heat’s influence on mental clarity and efficiency.
- Heat can induce mood changes, potentially by raising cortisol levels and stimulating a stress response. Further research is needed to understand how heat might exacerbate or trigger mood and anxiety-related issues.
- Staying well-hydrated is a key strategy to offset the cognitive impairment caused by heat, as dehydration was found to negatively affect the performance of participants in the college dorm study.