Health Social

Excessive heat: psychological and biological effects.

efectos calor psicologia

Our psychological state is not extraneous to the excessive heat. These days in Spain does not speak  of another thing: it does a lot of heat. It is the conversation of favourite elevator. The media repeat until no more is needed nor desired councils against the heat. We go to try explain what sucede.

Difference between heat and temperature.

We begin by the basic. A lot of means use the term heat to refer  to temperature and vice versa and is not the same. The heat is the quantity of total energy of a body that depends on the speed, quantity, type and number of his molecules. While, the temperature is not energy, is the measure of the heat in a body. For example, a glass of water can have the same temperature that a swimming pool but the swimming pool will have more heat because has more quantity of water, that is to say more thermal energy.

This is important to explain it because the heat is what does us go up the temperature. If we are in movement the corporal temperature will increase. That’s why when it does cold, have shivers (shiver) and when it does a lot of heat sweat so that our sweat evaporated in the skin attract this energy calorífica and therefore it diminish the corporal temperature, that like all the world knows, in the humans has to be around the 37º.   That is to say, the councils to warn  that our corporal temperature keep  in healthy levels base  in the laws of the thermodynamics. The key of everything is the energy.

The hypothalamus: internal thermostat. 

Our brain works properly between the 35º and the 40º of temperature and all what was out of these intervals begins to work badly. Well, who is the attendant to organise all this? The hypothalamus, coordinator of the autonomous nervous system. This region of the brain is the attendant of the processes of homeostasis (balance of the organism). It controls processes like the hunger, the satiety, the dream, the sexual impulse and of course the internal temperature.

When the hypothalamus detects that it exists variation between his own temperature and the one of the termoreceptores of the skin sets up the mechanisms to regulate it. When it increases the active temperature biological processes to go back to balance the organism like the already mentioned sudoración, the vasodilation (put us red because the blood arrives more to the surface and cools  better with the air) or the production of adrenaline (the organism feels  loomed).

Psychological effects of the excessive heat. 

They are many the effects that the excessive heat has on our organism and therefore our brain, with diverse negative consequences, between them:

Irritability and aggressiveness.

The production of adrenaline because of the heat is one of the causes of greater irritability in the periods of intense heat. According to Anderson (1987), the heat biases to the aggression and confirms the called “Thermal Law of the delinquency” of Quételet (1833) whereby the crimes are more frequent in periods estivales.

>> Article related: we Can know if somebody is good or bad by his physical appearance?

Disorders of the dream.

The vasodilation of which spoke to free heat goes to produce an increase of the respiratory and cardiac intensity that hampers to conciliate the dream. According to the experts, the ideal temperature to sleep are 21º with which if we do not have it the hiperexcitación cerebral that produces  to achieve it will cause episodes of anxiety. The hypothalamus, as we already said also commissions  to regulate the dream and guides  for this, between other things, in the temperature. And it avenges to give turns in bed and to not achieving complete properly the cycles of the dream, with the corresponding fatigue to the have not rested well.

>> Article related: Guidelines to sleep better: the hygiene of the dream.

Changes in the state of spirit.

The heat is energy, therefore, the logical is that the organism take advantage of  of him. If have heat, have more energy to spend and can redistribute it better. We are facilitating to the organism the tasks, by what will rest also better. Besides, the solar light penetrate in the organism (by the eyes) and stimulate the creation of serotonin and dopamine that elevate our state of positive spirit. Nevertheless, the energy also can be emotional, therefore  the extreme heat can cause a negative emotional state since it is a situation estresante and all what involves stress above the normal modifies our state of humour, irritates us and confuses.

>> Article related: emotional Energy and states of spirit.

Hit of heat.

It is what sucede when it does not work at all of what have explained up to now. The hypothalamus is not able to balance the temperature of the body and this rises above the 40º causing respiratory difficulties, cardiac arrhythmias, pulmonary edemas, renal insufficiency or even the death. It is important recalcar that the hit of heat produces  when the organism fails and does not make the actions to balance the organisms (like sweating). In this case you have to call immediately to urgencies (in Spain is the 112).

Tips against the extreme heat.

The tips against the extreme heat are the typical and almost logical, because the own body asks them: hidratarse, dress with clothes that allow the ventilation, protect us of the sun, freshen with showers or bathrooms, not going out to the street in hours calurosas, consume cool and light foods, avoid do physical exercise and less if it is directly in the sunlight, not consuming alcoholic drinks, caffeine or big quantities of sugar and because no, sleep the siesta.

It remembers that the key is the energy and if the heat contributes us energy above which need, something is failing and the hypothalamus will set up.


Iván Pico

Director y creador de Psicólogo Colegiado G-5480 entre otras cosas. Diplomado en Ciencias Empresariales y Máster en Orientación Profesional. Máster en Psicología del Trabajo y Organizaciones. Posgrado en Psicología del Deporte entre otras cosas. Visita la sección "Sobre mí" para saber más. ¿Quieres una consulta personalizada? ¡Escríbeme!

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