Winter fatigue is common. Most of us feel more tired when it’s dark and cold outside and the afternoon slump in energy levels can be much more pronounced over the colder months of the year. You may feel as though you are tired when you wake up, like getting out of bed is always a struggle, and that you could easily dose off as soon as you get in from work, or after you’ve picked your kids up from school. You might also be ready for bed by 9 pm or find that you are always nodding off in front of the TV.
There are many reasons why we might feel more fatigued at this time of the year. In the run-up to Christmas, we’re often busy and more than a little stressed out. When it’s cold, our bodies work harder and burn more calories just to keep us warm, and a lack of natural sunlight and vitamin D can mean that our energy levels are low. We’re also more likely to indulge in fatty foods and alcohol around this time, which can leave us feeling sluggish, bloated, and tired. Fatigue is also a common symptom of seasonal depression, which can be incredibly common during autumn and winter.
The good news is you don’t have to live with winter fatigue. There are plenty of things that you can do to boost your energy levels and get through the season. Below is a look at some of them.
Look for Underlying Causes
Some fatigue is common, especially when you are busy, or know that you haven’t been getting enough sleep. But if you are sleeping well, your diary is fairly clear, or your fatigue is so extreme that it’s starting to affect your day-to-day life, then it might not be a normal side effect of cold weather and grey days.
If you are worried about serious fatigue, then it’s best to visit your doctor or make an appointment with the Ruscio Institute. Common causes of tiredness include thyroid issues, poor gut health, sibo fatigue, and seasonal depression, among other things. The Ruscio Institute can offer support with sibo fatigue or help you to get to the bottom of what’s causing you to feel so tired and low.
Get More Exercise
When it comes to exercise in the winter, we face a dilemma. We don’t want to work out when it’s cold and wet. We certainly don’t want to go out for a jog when it’s dark or hit the gym when we’re tired, or struggling with winter joint pain. We find it hard to exercise when our energy levels are low, but exercise is one of the best ways to increase your energy levels, get a good night’s sleep, boost your mood and fight off winter fatigue.
Try to get into good habits with exercise. Enjoy a cardio workout, whether that’s at the gym, running outdoors, or just a brisk walk after large meals, at least three times a week, and try to practice strength training at least once.
If you are new to exercise, or really suffering from winter joint pain, swimming can be an ideal choice as it’s easy on the joints, but still a full-body workout.
Make Changes to Your Diet
At this time of the year, it’s common to find comfort in food, especially when we’re cold. There’s nothing wrong with that. Comforting casseroles are warming and filling, and seasonal treats offer a great pick-me-up. But too much heavy food can leave you fatigued, and too much fat can mean that your gut is working much harder than it must, leaving you feeling more tired than you should.
Instead, focus on energy-boosting foods like high-protein meat, fish, eggs and oats, fruits, and vegetables with plenty of immune-boosting vitamin C, and foods with lots of fiber. These will help you to feel more alert, but they’ll also make digestion easier and reduce inflammation around your joints, which is another common side effect of cold, damp weather.
Try to Stick to a Sleep Schedule
When you’re tired, it’s tempting to nap, go to bed early and stay in bed longer. But usually, these things are counterproductive. Getting straight out of bed when your alarm goes off can help you to feel more alert and ready for your day. While a nap and getting into bed early might be appealing, they could both make it harder for you to get a good night’s sleep. Instead, stick to a routine by getting up and going to bed at the same time each day and only getting into bed when you are ready to go to sleep.
Winter fatigue can also be a sign that you are simply doing too much. If these steps don’t help, look at your to-do lists and try to make some cutbacks wherever you can.