BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: fatigue

Need a Nap?

If you’re like me and enjoy soaking up the sun on a nice warm day, you may notice that after a little time in the sun… you’re ready for a nap! I sure know I am! I’ve always wondered why relaxing in the sun leads to feeling more exhausted than rejuvenated. Well here’s why!

Photo Taken by: Anthony Citrano www.zigzaglens.com (link to portfolio)

Our bodies are constantly working hard to maintain homeostasis, specifically temperature. On a warm day our bodies adjust to maintain this specific temperature. One way our bodies do this is through vasodilation. Vasodilation is the widening of blood vessels that result from the relaxation of muscular walls. This process allows for more blood to flow near the surface of your skin, allowing time for your blood to cool and release heat as it travels towards the skin’s surface. (If you ever find yourself over heated this increased blood flow near the skin explains why some people appear beet red when they’re hot)! Another way our bodies work to maintain homeostasis of body temperature is through sweat. When warm, our bodies secrete sweat onto our skin which then cools our skin as sweat evaporates!

But, in order for vasodilation and sweating to occur, our bodies have to do some work. Our heart and metabolic rates increase. It’s these occurrences that eventually lead to us feeling sleepy. Dehydration also plays a key role in fatigue. As your body secretes sweat, in attempts to cool down, you become more and more dehydrated.

Dehydration, when sun bathing, is also present if your skin gets burned or damaged. A sunburn is a sign that UV radiation has damaged the DNA in your skin cells. When you get sunburned, your body is constantly trying to repair the damage to those skin cells. One way the body attempts to repair the damage of a burn is diverting fluid from the rest of the body towards the burn leading to dehydration and therefore leading to fatigue.

In conclusion, as you soak up the rays wherever you may be, the best thing to do is to stay hydrated! Drink lots of non-diuretic beverages such as water and eat a salty snack! Non-diuretic beverages are those that keep you hydrated! Remaining hydrated will help somewhat with the fatigue you feel as you try and relax in the sun… what a paradox!!

You Have The Power!

Credit: scui3asteveo on Flickr

Do you have willpower? Are you able to resist the temptation of a cookie while on a diet, or checking your facebook while you should be doing homework?

The theory that has been misleading people is that willpower is connected to a person’s biological makeup, and that the reason they don’t have the willpower to walk away from temptation is purely because of biology. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and the only thing that has the power to override your willpower, is you.

In a recent study, psychologist Veronika Job proved that willpower and self-control are actually related to working hard and exercising certain parts of your brain. “When you work hard, you’re energized to work more; that when you’ve resisted one temptation, you can better resist the next one – then people successfully exert more willpower” (Job). Job took two groups of people, giving one group a simple task that required no self-control (crossing off every e in a typed text), and the other group a task that required little self-control (crossing off some e’s according to complex rules). After these two tests, the groups were required to perform a tricky cognitive test that involved a lot of self-control to avoid making mistakes. The first group performed well, believing that their “supply” of willpower had not been used up yet, while the second group felt that theirs had depleted, and performed poorly, except for a few people that felt willpower is not limited and performed well.

This study shows that anyone can believe that willpower is unlimited, and if some people can believe it, and prove it, then why shouldn’t you?

In another study, Job followed 153 college students, taking note of them over 5 weeks (including finals week). During stressful times, the students who believed in unlimited willpower ate less junk food, procrastinated less, and earned better grades than their “pessimistic” friends.

The sign that people generally look for to tell that their willpower has been limited is fatigue. If people begin to feel tired, they start to slack off because they believe their “battery” has just run out and they need to wait for it to “charge”. People who believe in unlimited willpower simply dig deeper to better recourses, refusing to give up.

So the next time you have a test coming up, and you start to slack off, think of what kind of person that makes you. Are you the type of person who can be so easily defeated by fatigue? Or are you the type that refuses to give up until the task at hand is done? Because only you have the power to make that choice!

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