Winter is coming. With the days drawing in and temperatures dropping it can feel like we’ve all moved north of the wall.
Why do I feel more tired in Winter?
A little thing called Melatonin
It’s not all in your head. The lack of light suppresses the body’s production of natural melatonin – a hormone which regulates our sleep patterns. When it gets dark melatonin tells your body it is time to prepare for sleep. With darkness happening much earlier in Winter, circadian rhythms are interrupted as the body prepares for sleep earlier.
But, in fact, there is no research to suggest anyone needs more sleep in Winter than Summer.
Winter Activities (or lack thereof)
With much less chance you’ve been invited to your cousin’s best friend’s barbecue or a 2-year-old’s birthday picnic at the local park, you’re likely to have less social activity.
When it’s dark and/or raining by the time you arrive home from work there’s less chance you’re going for that long walk. It’s more likely you’ll curl up on the couch and fall asleep.
What can I do to feel less tired in Winter?
1. Let There Be Light
If there is a glimmer of sun, try to hop right into it. Always open all your curtains and blinds to let the light in. If you’re working from home, seek out where the cat is sleeping and join her. Guaranteed it will be the sunniest, comfiest spot in the house.
If you’re cooped up in the office try to get out for a walk at lunchtime. Not only does light help regulate your circadian rhythms, direct sunlight also boosts vitamin D levels.
2. Today I Get To Exercise
Only a broken record needs to go on about how exercise gives you energy and helps you to sleep well at night. Get a bit creative and this can be fun! Ok so the walks, runs and cycle trips might be out in inclement weather but there are other activities to try. Get to the nearest roller skating rink, swim laps at the local pool, try out the trampolining centre. There are numerous fantastic apps for home workouts, even without equipment. Since the Coronavirus quarantine, gyms and studios are even offering live online classes from yoga to pilates to dance.
But if you’ve got a big dog and you feel safe walking in the dark, what the heck – pop on your raincoat and go for it.
3. Good Food = Good Mood
Eating a balanced diet is crucial for positive energy levels. In Winter It is all too easy to fall into unhealthy eating patterns. Losing all motivation to cook and ordering in burgers, pizza, fish and chips, kebabs, deep-fried chicken. But seriously who wants salad when it’s cold? No thanks.
The good news is you shouldn’t have to. There are plenty of Winter warmers which are healthy. Lamb and barley soup, casseroles with dumplings, rich meat or vegetable curries, vegetable lasagne, roast beef with all the trimmings.
4. A Bit of R and R
Shorter days can make you feel like you have less time to get everything done. Fighting the driving rain to get groceries to the car and having to put on extra layers just to go outside can all feel a tad more stressful than Summer. And stress is known to make you feel fatigued. Go easy on yourself and get some me-time. The housework will still be there tomorrow.
SADS (seasonal affective disorder) is actually a thing and people suffering from it will feel more depression in Winter. See your GP if you think you may be suffering from this.
People have a tendency to overheat their houses in Winter. As the body’s temperature drops during sleep it is better to have the house cooler whilst sleeping or you might find yourself tossing and turning from overheating.
Household heaters, coupled with dry Winter air can be very dehydrating. If your body wants to water it WILL wake you up in the night so stay hydrated.
Some people opt for a humidifier that helps stave off-dry, itchy nose, throat, and skin. Make sure to clean it regularly as mould can build up in the reservoir.