Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Sap Floweth Over

As many of you know, I was a high school English teacher several years ago. One of the great inevitibablities was a phenomenon known as...Spring Fever. As the winter wind gave way to warmer temperatures and more daylight, my students became very disinterested in Shakespeare and more interested in the opposite sex.

The attention spans got shorter, as did the girls' skirts.

We've all suffered from Spring Fever in one form or another. When temperatures hit the 70s for the first time, ever notice how much less traffic there is with the drive home? It's because a bunch of workers have left work early. They're playing hooky!

So is Spring Fever a real phenomenon, or is it just something we conjer up to excuse our strange behavior?

Matthew Keller, postdoctoral fellow at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics in Richmond, studied 500 people in the U.S. and Canada and found that the more time people spent outside on a sunny spring day the better their mood. He even found that there was an optimum temperature where people were most happy: 72 degrees F.

When Spring arrives, does our libido also increase?

There have been numerous studies showing that mammals definitely do breed according to seasons. Melatonin is known as the hormone that makes us sleep, and it has been thought that our increased energy in the spring months is related to the decreased duration of melatonin production, due to more daylight and shorter nights.

The idea that seasons affect moods is not a new one. For example, people that become depressed with the shortening of days is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. The "winter blues" is a very real disorder.

So the hypothesis that longer days and warmer temperatures bring us out of our funk and make us feel good isn't such a stretch. Perhaps we're seasonal animals. Or maybe it's a hormonal thing tied to sunlight and warmer weather.

Science doesn't have the definitive answer, but who cares. Get out and enjoy the weather. Cut out of work/school if you can and have some fun. The days will continue to get longer until mid-May. After the summer solstice on June 21st, daylight will begin to shorten.

And if you get caught goofing off or committing sexual harassment...just blame it on Spring Fever.



So that explains it - spring fever. But how does it explain "spring fever" when it comes in other months - January for example?

The Baron wants to know!

KC said...

I love Spring! Except for the stinging insects that go along with it. I got stung on the top of my head this weekend. It really hurt! But I didn't cry or make a fuss. I just kept planting, mowing, and painting. Spring cleaning/sprucing the homestead.

Pixie said...

hmm I still am more of a Fall person ;)

Jennifer said...

I totally beleive it. People have been holed up all damn winter and when the first sign of nice weather comes along, people are out there.

What I want to know is, in warmer climates, where the temp is basically the same all year, does this phenomena exist?

I bet it's worse in places where there are dramatic swings in temps.

David Amulet said...

The length of the day and amount of sunlight must have something to do with it ... although that doesn't explain why Icelanders' depression rate isn't dramatically greater than that of people at the equator.

-- david

The Phoenix said...

baron, are you admitting that you're lazy in the winter too?

KC, That sounds like it would hurt.

pixie, I am too.

jennifer, A lot of people don't do well with those transitions. Sometimes, the change from one season to another makes people physcially sick.

david, Iceland is kept happy by being entertained by Bjork.

Haley-O said...

I can tell you FO SHO that I feel SO much better when it's sunny out. Amazing the difference!

Godwhacker said...

I grew up in South Florida, which has almost no seasons. Trees are green year round and the temperature varies between hot and "less hot". In Miami, there are more beach days in February then there are in August when it's too darn hot.

Now I'm living in the northern part of the state. The seasons are still mild, but at least they exist. Nothing makes me friskier then brandy by the fireplace :)

BrianAlt said...

I was wondering, and wasn't answered from above, is there Spring Fever in Florida?

cube said...

I think Spring Fever is all in the head. People would just rather play than work & will blame it on just about anything.

The Phoenix said...

haley-o, I agree. I'm the same way. As long as it's not too hot.

godwhacker, They have fireplaces in Flordia?

brianalt, I don't know about Spring Fever, but they sure do have Spring Break!

cube, I'm sure that's the case for a lot of people too. But I think when the weather transitions from winter to spring, people are suffering from cabin fever and need to get out.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Okay, I can see how this would be a benefit to me. Next time I get caught making copies of my breasts on the office copier, I'll just show them this post and tell them I had spring fever! ;)

Have you ever taken melatonin (as a sleep aid)? I have. It evokes some really strange dreams...VERy weird.

Orhan Kahn said...

Matthew Keller studied 500 people in the U.S. and Canada and found that the more time people spent outside on a sunny spring day the better their mood.

It always makes me wonder how scientists can be so sure of their results after hours of tedious testing and analysing.

Godwhacker said...

Hi Phoenix,
yup! even down in Miami where you would hardly ever use them. Although now I live just a couple of hours from Georgia and the fireplace gets a fair workout a few months out of the year.

Because we have such high humidity levels, 50 can feel quite cold here.

Hi BrianAlt ~ I get the "blahs" in the middle of summer, when it's too hot to go outside. I don't know if you would call that a form of spring fever, but we do have "Spring Break".

Jamie Dawn said...

Many people get those winter blues. I don't get depressed during the winter, but I sure do LOVE when spring comes. Sunshine makes me happy!!

Grafs said...

I sexually harass Bubba daily regardless of the season.

mojotek said...

San Diego was one of the nicest places I've ever visited. It's between 65 and 85 degrees for most of the year. If I could afford it, I'd move there.

Damn this Seasonal Affective Disorder!

Keshi said...

Spring? hmm we r in Winter? I still cant find an excuse for not being interested in sex :)


Dan said...

my students became very disinterested in Shakespeare and more interested in the opposite sex.

Became? Became? I found that this was always true of me. Is that good or bad?

BrianAlt said...

You know another reason that people tend to leave work early in the Spring is so they can see their children's baseball games.

Reiki 4 Life said...

i do love the warmer, sunnier days of spring & summer...i don't think i could live anywhere that was cloudy and rainy more than not. carolina blue skies...nothing finer.

hope all is well phoenix! :)

Eve said...

I always get giddy in Spring!!!

Carmel said...

I love spring, I am always in a better mood when the sun is out.

Jay said...

I think not covering my cute outfits with puffy jackets and not shovelling snow even as it continues to fall is what makes me happy.

the weirdgirl said...

I totally believe this happens; I feel it too! And have you ever noticed there always seems to be a rush of winter babies born... exactly 40 weeks after that first spring weather?

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