Rise and shine

Liz Con­nor pro­vides top tips for beat­ing sea­sonal fa­tigue

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - This Week -

HANDS up if you strug­gle to get out of bed, feel like you’re con­stantly yawn­ing and rely on sev­eral pints of cof­fee to power you through the av­er­age work­ing day?

As the days get shorter, we all know how dif­fi­cult it can be to feel en­er­gised in the morn­ing — par­tic­u­larly when you crack open the cur­tains and see that it’s still dark out­side.

Tired­ness is one of our top health com­plaints — 75% of adults in the de­vel­oped world don’t get the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s rec­om­mended eight hours’ sleep. Also, doc­tors’ records re­veal that 10% of peo­ple who book an ap­point­ment are look­ing for a cure for their un­ex­plained tired­ness.

If you’re cur­rently bat­tling with the win­ter wipe out, we’ve put to­gether some tips for boost­ing your en­ergy lev­els dur­ing the big chill.

Get out into the sun­shine

Los­ing out on sun­light in the win­ter can dis­rupt the del­i­cate bal­ance of your cir­ca­dian rhythm, aka your sleep and wak­ing cy­cles.

This is be­cause when it’s dark out­side, the body pro­duces more of the hor­mone mela­tonin, which makes sleep feel invit­ing.

Open your blinds dur­ing the day­time and try to get out and about into nat­u­ral light as much as pos­si­ble. Even just tak­ing a brisk lunchtime walk can boost en­ergy, re­duce blood pres­sure and lift mood.

Prac­tice clean sleep­ing

We all know that sleep­ing too lit­tle can make you feel wiped out the next day, but over­sleep­ing dur­ing win­ter can also make you feel slug­gish in the morn­ings.

It might be tempt­ing to hi­ber­nate when it’s cold and dark out­side, but try to get into some healthy bed­time habits. Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time ev­ery day, and aim for eight, undis­turbed hours of sleep per night.

To im­prove your chances of get­ting a good night’s kip, make your bed­room an invit­ing place to sleep, avoid screens an hour be­fore slum­ber and cut down on caf­feine in the evenings.

Hit the gym

When you’re run­ning on low en­ergy, the last thing you prob­a­bly want to do is throw your­self onto a spin bike, but a healthy dose of morn­ing ex­er­cise can re­lease a wel­come burst of feel-good en­dor­phins.

If you strug­gle not to fall asleep on the sofa as soon as you get home, ex­er­cise in the late af­ter­noon may also help to re­duce early-evening fa­tigue, and can also im­prove your sleep.

Eat for the weather

Eat­ing oats in the morn­ing will top up your B vi­ta­mins, which help con­vert your food into en­ergy, and will pro­vide a source of slowre­lease carbs, so you’ll feel fuller for longer.

A por­tion of lunchtime salmon can pro­vide anti-in­flam­ma­tory omega-3 to keep the brain alert, and snack­ing on goji berries (which pro­vide a num­ber of nu­tri­ents to help sup­port en­ergy pro­cesses) can help you through the af­ter­noon slump.

While many peo­ple feel tired and slug­gish in the win­ter, it’s usu­ally not a sign of any­thing se­ri­ous. How­ever, some med­i­cal con­di­tions can cause tired­ness, like sea­sonal af­fec­tive dis­or­der, chronic fa­tigue syn­drome and anaemia.

If your tired­ness is af­fect­ing your daily life, or per­sists for an ex­tended pe­riod of time, you should talk to your GP.

DOZ­ING OFF: As the days grow shorter it can be dif­fi­cult to feel en­er­gised.

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