The behaviour of animals is often closely linked to the approaching weather.
It is suggested that bees stay close to their hives when a summer rainstorm
is on the way, while birds fly close to the ground, increase their foraging
or even gather to roost before the bad weather sets in. During good weather,
birds fly higher in the sky, while even spiders are supposed to be more
So how does the weather effect our behaviour?
We perform at our best when our bodies are not under stress from our surroundings,
and that includes the weather. But different aspects of weather can have
very specific affects on us.
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!
Temperature and humidity
The body finds it hard to cope with extremes of temperature, either producing
enough heat to keep us warm in very low temperatures or getting rid of
our own internally produced heat when temperatures are high.
Mortality rates tend to rise when temperatures soar. Mortality rates are
consistently linked to extremes of temperatures, particularly in the elderly
whose bodies find it harder to cope. At times when temperatures exceed
38°C for more than a week, mortality rates tend to increase by up
to 10%. In heatwaves, where the temperature is significantly higher than
expected for the time of year, people tend to behave more irrationally.
New York City sees regular summer crime waves, which are believed to be
as a result of the hot weather.
Hot humid days are the worst possible combination in terms of affecting
our behaviour, causing periods of sleeplessness, decreased general activity,
poorer vigilance, poorer reaction times and performance, irritability
Cooler days, with lower humidity, tend to increase alertness and general
activity, and improve moods.
Lack of sunshine can cause can cause the 'winter blues'. It goes without
saying that we tend to feel better when the sun is shining. 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
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
Up to half a million people in the UK are thought to experience SAD, with
a further one in five of the population experiencing a milder form - sub-syndrome
SAD. Symptoms vary from tiredness during the day and overeating to loss of libido and aggressive behaviour.
How often do you hear people say that the wind is driving them crazy!
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.
When these winds blow, temperatures can increase by up to 15°C in
as little as two hours. As they are common in mountainous regions they
are often responsible for avalanches. Studies have linked these winds
to an increase in traffic accidents, crime and suicide rates, and they
have even been taken into account during legal proceedings! A survey by
Germany's Allensbach Institute found that a third of their respondents
said that föhn-like weather affected their health.
The exact reason why these winds have such extreme effects is unknown,
but it has been suggested that it may be the electrical charge of the
air. When people are exposed to negatively charged air they report feeling
positive and vice versa. Warm winds, such as those mentioned above are
Homes and offices today are built to be airtight. Heating and air-conditioning
depletes negative ions, leaving the positive ones to re-circulate and
reduce our moods. As we spend less and less time outside due to pressures
at work and home our bodies are also going to be less exposed and less
adapted to different weather conditions.
But if you've ever wondered why the air feels so good after a heavy downpour
- it's nature's way of creating negative ions, so get outside and soak
MORE PAGES TO VISIT ON THE
LOCAL INTERESTS IN AND AROUND BILLERICAY
Why not take a historic building walk on your
computer, with a pictorial view
of these buildings guided by a street map of the High Street.
You can also look at our family attraction list
informing you of the many
family attractions, current events and all types of recreation found in and
around the Billericay area.
One of Billericay's best kept secrets is Norsey Wood it's a
mixed coppice woodland
covering an area of 65ha (165 acres). It has a history that goes back some 4000 years
and this, together with the richness of its wildlife, makes this site unique.
The Wood has been designated a Local Nature Reserve,
a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
you away from home (Billericay) and want to know
what has been happening, you can now with the latest