We’ve all been there: drowsy, warm, and comforted by the sun’s glow. It’s so tempting – delicious even – to slip into a slumber on a picnic blanket or sun lounger while the sun’s rays beat down on your skin.
It truly is a guilty pleasure, let me tell you. Starting with the skin, Harriet Dalwood, a spokesperson for the British Association of Dermatologists, tells GLAMOUR: “Falling asleep in the sun can be tempting, but it’s really asking for trouble, and can leave you at risk of major sun damage.
“Relying on sunscreen as your only defence is a mistake; it does not make you invulnerable to the sun and leaves you particularly vulnerable in areas where you’ve missed a spot or applied sunscreen too thinly.
“Sunscreen can also rub off, or be removed by sweating, and needs to be reapplied at least every two hours. Sunscreen should really be your last line of defence, rather than your only one. This is why we encourage people to use protective clothing and make use of shade.
“It’s important to remember that once damage has been done to the skin, it cannot be undone, therefore if you are feeling sleepy whilst outside, get yourself out of the sun and into a shade protected area.”
We all know the importance of wearing SPF and thankfully attitudes are changing – many people now actually enjoy applying their chosen sunscreen, thanks to modern formulations that aren’t thick and leave a white cast.
But let’s be honest, we’re probably not all in a habit of reapplying as often as we should. And even if we are, we’re unlikely to give every patch of skin the full attention it needs.
Damage to the skin, both aesthetically (hello, pigmentation) and health-wise, is easy to do when dozing off in your garden/beach/park/patio.
Dr Thivi Maruthappu, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, tells us falling asleep in the sun is “a dermatologist’s nightmare”.
“It puts you at risk of sunburn as you may not be aware of how hot the sun is and may not reapply necessary sun protection.
“If you do want to have a snooze, find a shady spot, apply SPF and cover up with clothing such as UPF protective clothing (clothing tested to SPF standards) where possible. Set a timer on your phone so you don’t nap too long and can reapply SPF liberally every couple of hours,” she advises.
Beyond the skin, there are other risks. Babylon GP, Dr Claudia Pastides, warns that dehydration can occur.
She explains: “The body needs to regulate its inner temperature to keep the body’s organs working properly. It does this in a few different ways and one of them is sweating.
“Sweating can cause dehydration and dehydration can make us feel quite unwell, from tired and weak to headaches and dizziness. Severe dehydration can of course be fatal. So make sure you’re drinking enough water when it is warm outside and avoid falling asleep in direct sunlight.”
Other serious things to consider are heat stroke and increasing the possibility of skin cancer.
A moment of calm might lead to a nightmare sunburn that takes days to heal, or worse. How about picking a shady spot next time, or, setting an alarm after 20 minutes?
Your body will thank you.