Friday, May 14, 2004

You are my sunshine....

I'm currently sitting in the Med School library. We have microscope lab about an hour from now, and I'm trying to kill time. I'll probably type up my notes after I finish this post, so the longer I make it, the more work I can avoid. ;-)

It's a rather dreary day outside (again). So I thought the following primer on how the weather affects us was fitting:

First we have sunshine. It's fairly obvious...
Bright days with full sun are positively stimulating. In fact the lack of sunshine can cause what is commonly known as the 'winter blues' or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that rules our body's main functions (mood, activity, sleep, temperature, appetite and sex drive). It is stimulated by the natural light that passes through the retinas in our eyes, and when less light is available these functions slow down, [leading to] tiredness during the day and overeating to loss of libido and aggressive behaviour.

Next, the wind:
A persistent or noisy wind can lead to an increase in tiredness and irritability, or even a sudden decrease in mood. Some school teachers have noticed that children tend to be more irritable and that there are more playground 'upsets' when it is windy. Seasonal winds are known as 'ill winds' in many cultures and have a variety of names such as the föhn (Alps), Mistral (southern France), Chinooks (western Canada and the USA) and the Sharav (Middle East). They are linked to feelings of anxiety, stress, depression and sleepless nights. Studies have also linked these winds to an increase in traffic accidents, crime and suicide rates, and they have even been taken into account during legal proceedings.

Finally, pressure:
Atmospheric pressure is continually fluctuating, and researchers in the Ukraine have found that slight low-frequency atmospheric oscillations can influence human mental activity, causing significant changes in attention and short term memory functions. So next time you find it hard to concentrate at work, blame it on the pressure!

There ya have it. Meteorological Psych 101. Now back to work...

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