Have you ever noticed that it’s always that little bit harder to find your get-up-and-go during winter? And that you crave an early night more than usual?
Winter affects our bodies in many ways, from our skin and hair to the way we feel. But just because it happens to many of us doesn’t mean we have to suffer through it. There’s plenty of things we can do to combat winter fatigue.
Does the cold weather make you tired?
It’s not so much the cold weather that makes us tired during winter, but the darker days. Less exposure to sunlight means our bodies don’t absorb as much vitamin D, which directly impacts our mood, immune systems, and, yes, our energy levels.
In addition, when it’s dark, our bodies produce melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. So, more darkness in the day means more’ sleep hormones’ in our bodies.
Are humans meant to sleep more in winter?
You may feel like entering ‘hibernation mode’ when it’s cold out but sleeping more than usual can actually make you feel more tired and sluggish, not less. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a good winter nap now and then, but you shouldn’t sleep for more than 20-minutes or nap after 3 pm, or you may find your sleep disrupted, adding to the issue rather than resolving it.
How can I get more energy in the winter?
Fight back against winter fatigue with these little lifestyle changes:
1) Tweak your diet
Did you know that the food you eat impacts your serotonin levels, also known as the ‘happy hormone’? By adding fermented foods into your diet, like sauerkraut, plain yoghurt, kimchi, kombucha and kefir, you’ll boost your serotonin, and therefore your mood and energy levels and get some good bacteria into your system.
If you’ve recently switched from healthy summer meals to starchy winter foods, you’ll feel it in your energy levels. However, you can still enjoy that wholesome winter food feeling without all the carbs by upping your portions of parsnips, turnips, carrots and swede instead of heaps of pasta and potatoes.
We also don’t recommend caving into your sugar cravings to give you energy, as you’ll crash quickly and feel even worse than before.
2) Exercise earlier in the day
This may not be what you want to hear, but exercising in the morning can help kickstart your circadian rhythm, which can be thrown out of cycle thanks to darker mornings and evenings.
If you can’t exercise in the morning, try to fit in some activity as early as you can throughout the day. Beating winter fatigue can feel like a workout itself, so why not opt for exercise that’s more fun? For example, swap the treadmill for a pair of ice skates and visit your local rink. Or perhaps try your hand at an indoor tennis court. Whatever you fancy, exercise doesn’t have to be boring to be effective at beating winter fatigue.
3) Take energising supplements
Many people take supplements to help them through the winter months when there’s less sun, and we naturally start to feel more sluggish. We have a whole range of energy-boosting supplements, including options for vegans.
4) Spend some time in the sun
We don’t mean standing outside shivering in the cold. We mean opening the curtains early and sitting by the window. The trick to this is to try and stop your body from creating that sleep hormone, so the more time you spend near sunlight, the less tired you’ll feel.
On milder days, a quick lunchtime walk will also get you that dose of vitamin D that’s so important for your body, and being in the brisk cold air for a short while will undoubtedly wake you up.
5) Find some time for yourself
‘Shorter days’ can make you feel more pressured to get through the working day than you realise, so you should chisel out some time to rest and relax. Stress is exhausting, and the sun going down earlier can make you feel as though you’re behind with your work, even though it’s not really the case.
Whether you’re taking a warm bath, reading a book, or spending time with a loved one, find what recharges and restores you and schedule time every day for that.
A good night’s sleep can also work wonders for your energy levels, but it’s about the quality of sleep, not just the length of sleep. So, create a peaceful environment that will help you relax and turn off all screens one hour before going to sleep.
Fight winter fatigue for an enjoyable winter
Winter should be a magical time, where you enjoy cosying up by a fire, watching leaves fall from the trees and eventually snowflakes falling from the warmth of your home. By making these five small changes, you can drastically change your winter experience.