Fighting Winter Fatigue

Do you find it harder to get out of bed during the winter months? Does the cold weather and lack of sunlight leave you feeling tired and sluggish in general? You are not alone; many people find that their energy levels are affected during this time of the year.

In fact, winter fatigue is so commonplace that you might find it’s about time that you investigated some easy ways to boost your energy levels.

Here are some simple ways to fight fatigue this winter:

  • Get plenty of iron and vitamin D – Deficiencies in iron and vitamin D can make you feel tired so ensure you’re getting plenty in your diet. We usually get our vitamin D from sunlight so during months when that’s lacking it’s especially important to keep your levels topped up with a supplement or certain foods. Foods that are rich in vitamin D include eggs, oily fish, spreads and fortified cereals. Great sources of iron include nuts, lentils, wholegrains, lean meat, dark leafy green vegetables and beans.

  • Exercise regularly – While it can be hard to feel motivated during the winter months you will often be surprised by the energy boost you feel after getting involved in some type of daily physical activity. Exercising in the late afternoon can help reduce early-evening fatigue and can promote improved sleep at night. If possible, aim to reach the recommended goal of 150 minutes of exercise a week.
  • Eat healthy, balanced diet - Being underweight or overweight can affect your energy levels so it’s very important to maintain a balanced, healthy diet throughout the winter. You will have more energy if you include more fruit and vegetables in your comfort meals. Casseroles and stews are a great way to incorporate winter vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, swedes and carrots into your diet. Certain natural energy supplements can also be a convenient way of topping up your energy levels in the winter.
  • Try to relax – This might seem like simple advice, but it is easy to overlook the added pressure felt during winter. Shorter daylight hours can increase the pressure to get everything done in a limited time frame and stress and worry have been shown to increase fatigue. Adding certain activities to your day like yoga, breathing exercises or meditation can help you keep calm and relaxed.
  • Sleep well – Although it’s very tempting to give in to the urge to hibernate through winter you shouldn’t sleep in for longer than usual. Sleeping too much actually increases the chances of you feeling more sluggish throughout the day. We require the same amount of sleep throughout the winter as we do in summer so try to catch eight hours of undisturbed sleep at night and maintain the same sleeping/waking schedule if possible.
  • Let in some light – During the winter months your sleep and waking cycles might be disrupted by the days becoming shorter. The lack of sunlight causes your brain to produce more of the chemical melatonin, which makes you sleepy. If opening your blinds and curtains doesn’t have the desired effect, then try taking more walks outdoors and soak up as much natural daylight as possible.

Feeling lethargy and an overall lack of energy and enthusiasm can also be symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. This condition affects one in fifteen people, but it can be treated so don’t be too concerned if you identify with the symptoms of this condition.

Feeling lethargy all year round can be a sign of a specific health condition, it you find your lethargy persists then it might be worthwhile for you to seek advice from your local GP.