Why Does Sunburn Leave You Feeling Exhausted?

Discover the link between sunburn fatigue and UV radiation effects on cellular damage.

Why Does Sunburn Leave You Feeling Exhausted?
Photo by Katie Smith / Unsplash

Have you ever noticed feeling more tired and drained after getting a sunburn?

It’s not just in your head.

There are clear scientific reasons behind why sunburn can leave you feeling exhausted.

Let’s dive into the science of it all.

The Effects of Solar UV Radiation

Sunburn is the result of overexposure to solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

When your skin gets sunburnt, it's essentially nuclear radiation damage to millions of cells across a wide area of the body.

UV radiation directly damages the DNA in skin cells, leading to a flurry of activity by DNA-repair enzymes and other repair processes.

Cellular Changes

In response to the damage, cells with irreparable damage undergo a process known as apoptosis, or programmed cell death, to avoid becoming cancerous.

This mass cell suicide is a protective mechanism to prevent damaged cells from proliferating into tumors.

The body then needs to clear away these dying cells, resulting in a massive drain on the immune system and body energy stores.

Dehydration and Muscle Fatigue

Moreover, being sunburnt often indicates prolonged exposure to the sun, which can lead to dehydration and muscle fatigue, especially if activities like hiking or swimming were involved.

Dehydration further taxes the body’s resources, contributing to feelings of exhaustion.

Immune System Strain

When the body is dealing with sunburn, it's like handling multiple crises at once.

The immune system is combating the cellular damage, clearing out dying cells, and tackling any potential infections due to compromised skin barrier.

This puts a considerable strain on the body, sapping its energy reserves and leaving you feeling lethargic.

So, next time you find yourself feeling more tired after getting a sunburn, remember the intense cellular and immune system activity that’s taking place in response to the UV damage.

It’s a reminder of the body’s remarkable ability to repair itself, but also a signal to prioritize sun protection to avoid these energy-draining consequences.