It’s that time of the year when our beds feel the cosiest they’ve ever been and stepping into the cold dark morning can be an entire challenge before you’ve even started the day. Since it’s these cold and dark conditions that bring on bothersome winter fatigue, you could be left thinking there’s nothing you can do and that winter will be one long struggle.
Thankfully, that doesn’t have to be the case. While we can't change the weather, we can learn about why you feel so tired and explore ways to boost energy levels this winter.
The key symptoms of winter fatigue
Whether your winter fatigue is mild or you experience what’s known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is a recognised mental health condition, here are some common symptoms that might resonate with you:
Feeling sleepy no matter what time it is
Cravings for carbohydrates and comfort foods
Feeling low in mood consistently
Lack of drive or motivation
Decreased sex drive
Anxious thoughts and/or feelings
From these symptoms, it’s clear that winter fatigue is a lot more than just feeling tired. The season can really take its toll on our wellbeing. But before we discuss the ways to improve our wellbeing, let’s look at the reasons why you might be feeling this way.
Why you’re so tired all the time during winter
Feeling tired in winter can have a snowball effect on the quality of our life. But how does a season have so much impact on our mental and physical health?
When the light (UVB rays) from the sun reaches our skin, our body makes vitamin D. It’s an important process because vitamin D supports bone health, helps regulate mood, and improves your immune function. With lower levels of vitamin D readily available due to the darker days, our health can be impacted.
In the UK, it’s recommended that we supplement our vitamin D with 10 micrograms a day (for adults and children over the age of one). It’s helpful to make sure you’re consuming quality sources of vitamin D too.
Sunlight and sleep
Sunlight is also responsible for your circadian rhythms, more specifically, your sleep-wake cycle. Light exposure in the morning sends signals that generate alertness and wakefulness. As we fade into the night, melatonin is produced which is a hormone that promotes sleep. So what happens to our sleep during winter?
Are humans meant to sleep more during winter?
Daylight is what helps us wake up and the darkness helps us fall asleep. During winter, many of us are waking up in the dark and often still going about our daily duties as the sun begins to set.
For these reasons, we can feel much more lethargic. Plus, the cooler temperature may improve our sleep quality. That’s as long as you’re not uncomfortably cold and you don’t have your heating cranked up (it’s suggested that bedroom temperature should be between 15.5 and 20 degrees Celsius for a night of good quality sleep).
With those things considered, it’s completely natural for humans to sleep more during the winter.
There are other facts to be aware of though. If you still find you have trouble sleeping it’s worth keeping an eye on how much you use electronic devices before bed. The blue light they emit triggers wakefulness which is disruptive to quality rest.
And, if you’re struggling with sleep due to more severe levels of winter fatigue (like SAD), it’s worth speaking to your doctor while working on having a healthy lifestyle. Did you know certain foods can have a huge positive impact on your well-being?
What you can eat to boost your energy levels
It goes without saying that eating a healthy balanced diet is the foundation of well-being. But what if you could hack your daily meals by incorporating certain foods that will boost your energy naturally? Here are some nutritious foods to try this winter:
Citrus fruits are bursts of vitamin C which is supportive of our immune system function. This can help you fight off any common colds that crop up through the winter months and keep your energy levels up.
Plus, the scent of citrus fruit alone is invigorating and mood-boosting.
It’s completely normal to crave more comfort foods during winter. And while treats are certainly part of a healthy lifestyle, you still want to be careful if you’re trying to improve your energy levels. If you crave things like cakes and biscuits, your blood sugar could be suffering.
To save yourself from energy crashes, try adding some dates to your diet. They have a delicious caramel flavour and can be eaten as a snack with some nut butter or chopped into porridge. Even though they’re sweet, they are nutrient-dense and packed full of fibre which helps stabilise your blood sugar.
All-natural energy drinks
It’s a good idea to ditch caffeine since it can cause more tiredness in the long term. And not just coffee, you’ll want to lay off the sugary energy drinks too. So what are you left with?
If you're searching for a pick-me-up throughout the day, healthy energy drinks are a perfect solution. Natural energy drinks like JIN JIN are cordials that you can mix with still or sparkling water for a daily dose of fruits, vegetables, adaptogenic mushrooms, and healthy bacteria. By promoting good gut health, JIN JIN cordials help boost your energy levels and support your immune system, providing you many health benefits at the same time.
What you can do to boost your energy levels
As well as eating a healthy diet there are plenty of small tweaks you can make to your daily life that will act as your much-needed natural energy boosters. You could try to:
Get some sunlight on your face as soon as you can to promote wakefulness
Take a stroll each day to get some fresh air and time in nature
Find types of exercise you enjoy in winter to help boost feel-good chemicals
Keep devices to a minimum in the evening to support good-quality sleep
Talk to someone (a friend or a professional depending on how much you struggle with winter fatigue) to help improve your mental health
These are just a few things you can do each day to get a natural energy boost. It might be a difficult time to make changes to your lifestyle when you feel tired and struggle to feel motivated every day. But if you take small slow steps you could really make a difference to your energy levels throughout winter.
By following this guide, you could start to see improvements in your energy levels this winter
If you want to wake up each day with more energy, it’s important to understand why winter fatigue happens, why sleep is such a huge factor, and why maintaining a healthy-eating lifestyle is just as important.
We hope that following this guide and incorporating natural drinks for energy like JIN JIN (rather than reaching for those sugary drinks) can support you with boosting energy levels. Winter fatigue is tough, but small changes can make a big difference.