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Why Does Going to the Beach Make You So Tired?

It’s got nothing to do with the soothing sounds of the ocean

These days, all you have left is the beach. In a COVID world, it’s one of the few remaining activities that, if done properly, is mostly safe. You soak up some sun. You jump in the water. And you come out with a fresh new perspective on just how bleak the state of the world is these days. It’s for all intents and purposes one of the more relaxing activities to do. But by the time you get home, physically, you feel as though you’ve run every single errand you’ve ever had and then some. So what gives? Is it the sun causing all this post-beach tiredness? The warm air? The soothing sound of the ocean? All the worrying you may be doing about COVID? 

Unsurprisingly, there isn’t much research to suggest that there is something special about the ocean air or the view that makes you tired (although it can help you relax). No, the much more obvious answer is direct sunlight, which, of course, is generally why you go to the beach in the first place. 

All this sunlight causes your body temperature to increase, and since your body is working hard to stay cool, you’re losing fluids and salts through sweating. Which leaves you dehydrated — one of the primary symptoms of which is fatigue. Along with the more obvious fact that the sun causes skin cancer (there is no safe way to tan, remember), this is another reason it’s recommended that you wear a hat or make use of an umbrella to reduce the amount of direct sunlight that’s hitting you while on the beach.

Another potential reason the sun makes you tired is that being in the sun suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps control your daily sleep-wake cycles (although scientists aren’t yet sure why). After you leave the beach, however, the melatonin production increases once again, causing that strong desire to take a good, long nap. 

All of this is to say that it’s the sun that’s making you feel like you’ve just scaled Everest, not the beach itself. It just so happens that most anything you do at the beach — especially if you’re doing a lot of apocalyptic brainstorming — includes a heavy dose of chemically exhausting UV rays.