I want to take a nap. Badly. That’s what I’ve noticed. Part of this could be explained by my habit of staying up to watch Olympics coverage, but I think the tux has something to do with it, too. Being a few degrees too warm seems to take a toll. When you’re cold, your body begins to shiver as a way to generate heat. That process is taxing and will leave you feeling exhausted in short order. Can a tux do the same thing to you, even a handsome tux from Al’s Formal Wear? I put the question to Professor George Havenith, professor of environmental physiology and ergonomics Loughborough University, in Leicestershire. I had heard Havenith interviewed on NPR and figured he’d have an answer. That he did:
You are right that in the cold you use extra energy for shivering, and that will contribute to tiredness. In the heat, though less extreme, you also use more energy. The first response of your body at mild heat exposure (you in the office, wearing a thick tux) is to increase the blood flow to the skin. This warms the skin and will help to lose more heat. For this you will see an increase in heart rate that will also lead to an increased energy use. If in your office, that is not too much, but each time you go out (and probably for a while after coming back in) you will show a much stronger response, including sweating. This all contributes to your energy use and thus will cause some fatigue, too.
Then there is the general effect of discomfort on our body and psychology. Feeling uncomfortable (warm) does affect people’s productivity, and even only moderate shifts in thermal comfort have been shown to affect productivity.
So, though the physiological effects of mild heat (too much clothing does the same and exacerbates the heat) is not that massive, it all adds up to your fatigue.
This differs quite a bit between people, and it is actually difficult to predict who is affected most.
Here is the key phrase: “even only moderate shifts in thermal comfort have been shown to affect productivity.” We just finished producing our September issue. Can I promise you that I read everything carefully and gave each story the love and care it required before going to print? No, I cannot promise you that.