Here’s why summer makes the adult brain weaker
According to all kinds of research, putting a few hours of daylight in the summer months may do more than just make your daily commute easier. Seasonal changes are likely keeping people in their mid-60s shorter.
And yes, even those with a full body of knowledge know this to be true.
Someone interviewed about the phenomenon said, “A person’s brain doesn’t get regenerated as it does in the winter months. Instead, the brain gains a small amount of new brain capacity during summer months as more restful daylight and lighter weather encourage sleepiness.”
Further research has shown a slowdown of the effects of sleep on the brain. Other studies even found that the way you’re sleeping can matter more to how well your brain functions than you ever imagined.
Researchers started out with someone who was a fMRI study for the brain. Normally, the brain’s blood flow changes with light, and this was important when it came to diagnosing neurological conditions. However, these studies typically monitored areas that are important for cognitive activities such as remembering data or focusing.
However, a study of ten employees in Beijing, China, studied the effect that seasonal disruptions of working life had on the brain. They found a decrease in the brain’s deepwave activity, what are known as beta waves.
It was something that was quite familiar to the team in terms of recent studies, but still unexpected in this context.
Lead researcher, Dr. Tiffany Wu, explained, “This decrease correlated to sleepiness. We suspected it could be related to a decrease in the activity of the brain’s inner workings during daylight, while our study was conducted during daylight hours.”
This finding chimed well with research that shows brain changes happen from when you wake up to when you go to sleep, but not necessarily what time you actually go to sleep. Instead, that sleep cycle is more controlled by factors such as light and temperature.
One other interesting finding is that people with a larger brain with smaller differences (larger neural networks) had fewer beta waves.
As you might guess, some people with smaller brains had more consistent sleep as people with larger brains with smaller differences tended to sleep more. It seemed to counteract the effect of daylight that could improve sleep quality. However, other studies found less consistent sleep, that people’s brain activity actually decreased.
It’s too soon to figure out if we’ll get a summer’s day when our brain hits this equilibrium or if people will naturally return to a slow pattern of activity after summer. Regardless, long working hours, working nights and irregular sleep schedules are widely thought to reduce brain health.
As China’s work schedule increases, people will inevitably be affected. So those that want to improve their brain function can definitely put some thought into when they work (or shift).