Finding yourself pulling the covers over your head and hitting snooze more often? As winter approaches and our days become shorter, it can take a MAJOR toll on our energy levels leave us tired and befuddled.
According to a study by Silentnight, winter sleep habits have a detrimental effect on our mood. The study revealed that 30 percent of women blame lack of sleep for making them emotional, whilst 23 percent of women believe arguments with their partners are a direct result of having too little sleep.
Silentnight’s resident sleep expert, Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan says, “Winter has a significant impact on our sleep patterns. The season brings with it a dramatic reduction in light which causes a depletion in Vitamin D levels, which can effect both our energy levels and mood. During winter our bodies also produce too much of the hormone, melatonin, which can make us sleepy and groggy.”
That said, we came up with a list of simple and effective ways to help recharge your energy levels this season.
Here are some easy ways to help.
1. Follow the light
One of the best ways to maintain your energy is by going outside as much as possible during daylight hours.
Osteopath & Zero Balancer, Avni Trivedi says, "Walk from meeting to meeting, take a brisk walk at lunch, and socialise during the day for brunches. BUT tuck yourself in early in the evening. You have more energy when you are in sync with nature, rather than working against it." A good reason to get more sleep!
2. Never skip breakfast
Make a habit of eating breakfast right at the start of your day. A healthy slow release breakfast will give you the energy and satisfaction you need to see you through lunch.
Nutritionist, Emma Wight Boycott says, "Warming oats are a great way to start your morning, try topping with nuts or seeds and some seasonal winter fruit like apples, pears cranberries or dates." Breakfast. Is. A. Must.
3. If necessary take Vitamin B12
"If you are lacking in energy, try upping your intake of vitamin b12 which helps release energy from foods we eat," says Emma.
This vitamin is especially important for your brain - hey, it's your brain's main source of fuel! So if you're feeling particularly sluggish, increase your B vitamin levels with a supplement for a quick boost. Other ways to get those all-important Bs is to maintain a healthy varied diet of meat, poultry, and eggs. Trust us, you'll be surprised how much it can help.
4. Stay Hydrated
Even in the coldest of months you can be at risk of dehydration! Remember hydration is key for good health - it helps our body function and acts as an internal moisturiser for your skin.
Health and weight management expert and founder Vavista, Dr. Sally Norton agrees. She says, "Central heating, cosy fires... they’re all essential if you’re to survive winter without hypothermia, however they’re not great for your skin – or your hydration, which is key for concentration, mood, and energy. Ensure you are getting 8 glasses of water a day, or why not curl up with a cup of herbal tea?"
5. Ensure your Zinc levels are on point
Iron is a vital source for energy and immunity during the colder months. If you're lacking in the iron department, chances are your body's working a whole lot harder to get the nutrients it needs, which could result in fatigue.
It also means that your body is more susceptible to viruses and bacteria which could cause colds or flu. Emma says, "To support your immune system eat plenty of food that contains zinc such as oysters, spinach and legumes." The more, the better.
6. Relax, it's good for you
Easier said than done, right? In the winter months it's easy to let ourselves go and lock ourselves inside the office or at home, away from the cold. But it's important to note that not getting enough sleep could cause you to feel very tired.
Emma recommends you "take some time out to assess your lifestyle and habits". Overworking and having a lack of rest, exercise, and sleep all tend to deplete our energy and our strength.
"This can leave us more vulnerable to outside influences. To achieve vitality over the winter months make sure you give yourself time to relax, exercise and try to get both a good quality and quantity of sleep." Try to be as active as possible during the day and make sure you're getting all the rest you can at night.
7. Be nice to your gut
A healthy gut is the secret to feeling great! Digestion is one of the single most energy zapping functions the body does everyday so without a healthy gut our body is probably on overdrive.
Bio-Kult nutritional therapist, Natalie Lamb adds, "Your gut sends signals to your brain, the place where much of your ‘happy hormone’ is produced. Furthermore, taking a daily probiotic was recently shown to increase vitamin D levels by more than 25% (well known to be low in SAD) and to modulate the area of the brain responsible for mood".
To make sure your gut's in good working order we recommend taking a multi strain probiotic such as Bio-Kult. Mix it in water, your morning breakfast or whizz it in a smoothie right at the start of your day.
8. Do yoga
During the cold, winter months practicing yoga is great and effective way to boost your overall vitality.
Avni says, "Yoga and meditation each day can be great ways of supporting your energy. Another bonus is reduced stress, which takes pressure off the immune system and leaves you less vulnerable to winter colds."
9. Stay truly positive
Believe it or not, being a negative Nancy all the time can have a serious effect on the way you feel. Stress, loneliness, depression - these are all causes of negative energy.
Emma says, help by "staying positive and balanced. Healthy lifestyle and dietary habits, an optimistic attitude and basic care of our precious human body will support the optimal function of not only our immune system but our entire body."
One way to channel more positive energy is by practicing gratitude. It's a great way to help stay optimistic, improve immunity and reduce stress. Promise - it works.
10. Eat vegetables packed meals
Hot chocolate and hot pie during the winter months are too good to resist. But they're NOT as 'comforting' as we think.
Emma says, "There are lots of winter foods that are both nutritious and comforting - roasted root vegetables are delicious and sweet, and soups packed with vegetables are great for lunch time, especially with lots of garlic or ginger." This will keep your energy levels up while also keeping you warm and satisfied.
Another great food for energy are Mushrooms, more specifically Reshi. Mikei Red Reishi Mushrooms are a go-to wonder product that's all natural and clinically proven to improve your immunity. Its powerful antioxidants help reduce stress and fight winter bugs while also balancing your energy levels. Take one capsule in morning along with Vitamin C (to help absorb the nutrients better) and see the results for yourself.
11. Exercise outdoors
According to a Healthspan survey 85 percent of people said exercising helped boost their mood in winter! So we say, make the most of what you've got.
Natalie says, "Aim to spend more time exercising outdoors, to maximise exposure to sunlight and increase natural levels of serotonin (often low in SAD)."
"Embrace the activities that you can ONLY do in winter – ice skating, snowball fights, kicking leaves in the park... by keeping active each day you will ensure a regular dose of endorphins, which will keep your mood positive and your energy levels boosted," says Dr. Sally. Keep it fun!
12. Boost your iron levels
Many people don't realise that low irons levels mean low energy. In fact feeling fatigued is one of the major symptoms of iron deficiency.
Emma says, "Get your iron from foods such as red meats, lentils, and green leafy vegetables. But if you’re not getting your iron requirements through food sources alone consider taking a natural food iron supplement like Spatone Apple to maintain healthy levels."
Menstruating women with heavy periods are most at risk. If this is you make sure to eat lots of iron-rich foods and consider taking a supplement to help support your vitality during the day.
If you're feeling fatigued a great way to fight off the drowsiness is by practicing hydrotherapy. It may not seem obvious but water actually works as a natural stimulus for our body helping us feel refreshed and re-energised with in just one splash.
Dr. Nerina says, "Try a 30 second blast of cold water at the end of your shower for instant energy and a boost to your circulation." It can also stimulate your immune system helping your body raise its metabolic rate and feel more energised. Win-win all round!
14 . Look at winter differently
Winter isn't as glum as we make it out to be - there are lots of exciting things happening during the holidays. Instead of thinking of winter time as a time to dread why not give winter a new meaning?
Healthpan's, Psychotherapist, Sally Brown recommends giving winter, "A mental ‘rebrand’ – focus on everything that’s great about the season, from parties to cosy nights in by the fire." And dare we say Christmas!?
15. Up your Omega 3's
The importance of getting enough Omega 3 in your diet cannot be stressed enough. Omega 3 helps reduce inflammation in your body which in turn can have a BIG effect on the way you feel.
Nature’s Best nutritionist, Dr. Sam Christie says: “Levels of Omega 3 are linked to cases of depression, therefore ensuring you have ample levels of Omega 3 is important. The trouble is getting oily fish in your diet as many are put off by the taste."
"A good option is to incorporate fish into a dish where you can no longer see it, for example anchovies in a tomato sauce." Or perhaps a warm fish pie?
For those who aren't fish lovers try Nature’s Best Pure Fish Oil 1100mg.
16. Make your bedroom a 'Quiet Zone'
When your body clock's out it can be challenging to get to sleep (especially when your body has been running on the same schedule for the last six months or so).
Dr. Irshaad Ebrahim, Sleep Expert at Phoenix Hospital Group says a way to combat this is by avoiding light at night. "It’s really important to avoid watching TV, using smartphones, tablets o,r laptops before you sleep.
"If this is your usual bedtime routine, try to change these habits and substitute them with more relaxing “rituals” such a taking a bath, drinking a glass of warm milk and quiet reading instead." There are tons of ways to avoid stimulants - do what you feels right for you.
You could even try bathing in bath salts before bedtime to settle your mood and to calm you at the end of a busy day. Roques ONeil Himalayan Detox Salts are made with soothing aromatherapeutic ingredients like rosewood, geranium, lavender, and lemongrass.
17. Avoid oversleeping
It's true that oversleeping can do your health more harm than good. As tempting as it is (in the midst of a cold, dark winter) getting up and going to bed at a regular time everyday is so important to your health and energy levels!
Dr. Nerina says, "The amount of sleep needed will vary from individual to individual. Although you should make sure you get enough sleep during the darker evenings, AVOID oversleeping - this is actually the source of fatigue."
The NHS recommends adults get between 6 to 9 hours of sleep a night. But if you had a big weekend and feel you need a bit more shut eye, make sure to go to bed early rather than sleep in, it's the only real way to catch up on sleep without it costing you too much.
What are you doing to perk yourself up this season? Tweet us @wewomenCA.