It’s the same old story, as we push through Autumn towards Winter; coughs, colds and flu are more prevalent, and just when we should be enjoying Festive celebrations with friends and family, you’re finding yourself preferring to stay on the sofa under a duvet.
You might think there’s no logical reason why you should be feeling more tired in winter, but in fact there are many reasons for this, all perfectly normal and very common. However the good news is, there are things you can do to boost your energy levels, improve your immunity and spend the Winter months feeling as good as you do the rest of the year.
• Less Light
We need sunlight all year round, but during the Winter month’s there’s just less of it, so even when we are outdoors we’re not getting so many benefits.
Sunlight regulates your circadian rhythm which tells your body when to sleep and when to wake up. Not enough light can mean feeling more sleepy, or feeling awake or tired at the wrong times.
• You need more sleep
Before the invention of the light bulb (and firelight to an extent), humans got up when it was light, and went to bed when it was dark. This means we’re actually supposed to get more sleep during Winter.
While modern lives are busy, if you can go with this natural instinct and go to bed an hour earlier in Winter, you’ll feel much better for it.
• Your Vitamin D has run out
Vitamin D is actually more like a hormone in that it’s produced by the body itself, on contact with sunlight. We store Vitamin D in our fat cells (hence it’s a ‘fat soluble’ vitamin), but this can run out by the time it’s mid-Winter, and a quality supplement might help see you through until Spring. BetterYou have a home Vitamin D test which you can get 10% off from, as well as any supplements you might need, with code FITMUMFORMULA here.
Cold wet days are not very appealing to most people, so an afternoon pottering in the garden becomes a DVD or family board game indoors. We’re more likely to drive than walk or cycle too when the weather is bad.
Being active is good for immunity, gets your blood pumping oxygen and nutrients around your body, and energises you by increasing the amount of mitochondria you have, which are the energy ‘powerhouses’ in your cells.
• Staying Indoors
This is a compound of less light and less activity, plus less fresh air to ‘blow away the cobwebs’. While this might sound like an old wives’ saying, getting outdoors really does leave you more energised and refreshed.
• Stodgy food
Energy dense comfort food is a staple for most people during colder months. But hearty, warming meals don’t have to be unhealthy. While there’s a place for pies and custard, try warm stewed fruit and roasted vegetables as a way to boost your antioxidant intake and avoid Winter weight gain at the same time.
Use warming spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger on both sweet and savoury foods.
• Alcohol intake
Going hand in hand with the Festive Season, alcohol is an energy drainer, as anyone who’s ever had a hangover will tell you! If you’re invited to a lot of parties, be the designated driver for some of them and stick to non-alcoholic drinks instead. There usually juices, diet sodas and even non-alcoholic cocktails available sometimes, so you don’t have to stick to tap water all night.
A combination of late nights, unhealthy party food and alcohol are a heady mix to drag your energy levels down. Eat before you go, restrict your alcohol intake (see above), and perhaps consider turning down some invitations if it’s all getting a bit overwhelming and no longer becomes fun.
• Christmas Overwhelm
Combine all of the previously mentioned with writing and sending cards, shopping for presents, and hosting and cooking for extended family and friends and it’s easy to see why we get overwhelmed.
This isn’t just for Christmas itself either – the pressure to create the perfect Christmas means we feel we have to start planning earlier and earlier, extending the workload into much of Autumn too. But actually getting organised sooner can be away to avoid getting stressed at the last minute.
Make lists, put money aside, shop early (keep a present box or drawer) and delegate tasks to others.
• You’re SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a very real condition, whereby sufferers get depressed but only during the Winter, and with it comes all the usual effects of depression such as a constant low mood, appetite disruption, poor sleep and lethargy. It’s thought to be all of the factors of Winter – low vitamin D, less light, fresh air, exercise and an overly packed social diary that may all contribute. For many people, just following the advice in all these posts will help greatly, but if symptoms get severe see your doctor.
Feeling more tired in Winter is very common, but it doesn’t have to be this way and it certainly shouldn’t stop you from enjoying all the wonderful things that Winter has to offer. From enjoying windy walks to making snowmen, and relaxing on the sofa with a cuppa because you’re too tired to do anything else.
And if you really don’t like the cold Winter months however hard you try, then maybe it’s time to take a holiday and pick yourself up with some Winter sun!