winter fatigue

Winter Fatigue: Why Are We Always Tired and Sleepy?

 
Tiredness is closely associated with cold months and winter time. In winter, many people notice physical and mental tiredness and lack of energy, while the other also recognize lack of interest and creativity. It is not unusual that our body and mind react to climate change, however, what seems to be unusual is the fact that most of the people blame the cold weather.

Winter is in fact a season that offers many joys and entertainments once you know how to deal with that cold weather. If you wish to enjoy winter fully, you need to understand why you are tired and sleepy all the time, and how to balance your needs and moods.

I have compiled a list of the most common causes that can make you tired and sleepy more than you actually are, almost all the time. Moreover, the list also offers ways to deal with cold months and “winter depression”.

 

Lack of Sunlight

In winter, days are shorter, thus our waking cycles are changed. Lack of sunlight causes our brain to produce more melatonin, a hormone that makes us sleepy. The release of this hormone is associated with sunlight, and linked to light and dark, in fact, since the sun sets earlier, there are more dark hours in winter, and our body wants to go to bed earlier or requires more hours of sleep.

It is completely normal to adjust the body to the new weather atmosphere, and to slow down, however, the need for more sleep due to the lack of sunlight, and the overall feeling of tiredness, can lead to a more serious season affective disorders, and winter depression.

The first thing one can do is to take advantage of the light hours.  As soon as you get up, open your curtains and windows and let the sunlight in. One should also get outside more and spend more time in natural daylight. One more thing one can do is to change the working hours, or to make a working environment as light as possible.

 

Lack of Vitamin D

As you all know vitamin D is a sun vitamin, and lack of this vitamin can make you feel more tired than you actually are. The good this is that one can get vitamin D from other sources.

Food is your first and probably the best choice. Great sources of vitamin D one can find in oily fish (salmon, sardines mackerel). Other sources of vitamin D are eggs, and meat, while one can find it in some breakfast cereals, soya products and dairy products. Vitamin D is essential for the immune and nervous system, and you need to get really serious in case you are lacking this vitamin.

 

Lack of Restful and Healthy Sleep

Given that winter time makes us sleepy, it is a bit strange to think that we can actually lack a healthy sleep. However, being sleepy all the time, and sleeping whenever you feel a need to, is contra productive given that we do not need to sleep more than 8 hours (the same as in the warmer months).

Sleeping for more than 8 hours will make us even more grumpy, tired and sluggish. Everyone should stick to a usual sleeping schedule (at least 8 hours) and one should try to go and get up from bed at the same time.

 

Getting Serious about Healthy Food

To beat fatigue and sleepiness one need to understand that eating healthy is mandatory. The common mistake almost every person does is ditching the salads from winter menu and reducing the intake of raw vegetables (replacing it with pastas, bread or potatoes).

For more energy you need fruits and vegetables. There are plenty of winter vegetables you can use in everyday nutrition: carrots, turnips, swede, parsnips, and more. However, try to avoid food rich in sugar.

Read the list of the foods you can eat every day and learn the reasons why you should include these foods in everyday nutrition. Moreover, it would be interesting to know also what food can boost a bad mood.

 

Concentrate on Exercising

There is not one justifiable reason why anybody should stop exercising during cold months. The truth is that we can find many excuses to skip workouts and to stop exercising, but being in shape and getting involved in any type of exercising in winter is beneficial for us in many ways.

Winter is a perfect season to experiment with different types of exercising and enjoy winter sports as well. With regular exercising, one will feel energized and more positive. Battling with winter depression and fatigue would be easier if one is dancing, skiing, skating, or simply enjoying evening walks. Choosing the right workout will also keep you from gaining weight and maintaining a healthy body.

 

What other things can cause tiredness and sleepiness?

Room temperature

Laziness and chronic fatigue, along with colds and flus, affect sleep and mood. When you are sleeping in a room that is too hot or cold, your body will react to the temperature and try to adjust its mechanism to it. If the room is too hot, you will have a need to sleep more, and if it is too cold, you will not have a healthy sleep.

You need to balance the room temperature, which is around 22 to 20 degrees.

 

Heavy evening meals

Eating late, or consuming the food that is hard to digest, will harden the digestive process and unable you to have a relaxing sleep, or it will make you sleep even longer than usual. Try not to eat late meals, and if, for any reason, you have to, eat the food that is easy for the digestive system.

 

Dry air

In winter the indoor air is usually dry and it affects the mucous membranes of the nose, thus while we sleep we usually breathe through the mouth. Mouth breathing is harmful to our overall health, apart from the fact that disturb our peaceful sleep. If you do not get enough sleep, you will feel tired and exhausted.

Therefore, make sure to place water containers on or near radiators, or the source of your heat, to moisten the air.

Image credit: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo

Linda Ward is a nurse and a wannabe writer. She enjoys writing about different health, food and lifestyle topics. In her free time, Linda loves to dance and work out in a gym.

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