Do you find it harder to wake up and get out of bed on these cold, dark winter mornings? Yet, during the summer months, you instantly become a morning person, shooting out of the sheets as soon as the alarm clock rings? If so, you are definitely not alone!
Your circadian rhythm is a natural bodily process that regulates your body clock. It is maintained by your exposure to light, so in the winter, when light is scarce, you may find that you need more hours in bed to feel energised than in the lighter months. Perhaps you’re even feeling tried and sluggish throughout the day?
If the lack of light is getting you down and making it hard for you to keep your body clock on track, then here are a few simple lifestyle tweaks that might help to give you more energy over the winter.
Get Enough Sleep, But Not Too Much
When winter hits (especially during the lockdown!) it’s very tempting to want to hibernate. The dark evenings make us want to get into bed early and the dark mornings make us want to sleep for longer too. However, if you sleep too much, you might feel sluggish and lethargic during the day.
There are various myths flying around that we need more sleep in the winter than in the summer, but this is not the case. We should still aim for about 8 hours per night – aiming to go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
Get As Much Sunlight As You Can
Your body’s lack of sunlight during winter means that your brain will begin to produce more melatonin – a hormone which makes you sleepy! Therefore, it’s important to soak in that sunlight as much as you can during the day.
As soon as you wake up, open your blinds or curtains to let in as much light to your rooms as possible. Keep them open until the sunset on an evening. Also, try to get outdoors at least for one hour each day. Even if it’s cold or dull, wrap up warm and set out for a lunchtime walk in the fresh air.
Many people, especially those who suffer with SAD, have chosen to invest in a light therapy lamp for their home. This simulates the sunlight that’s missing during the winter months and encourages your body to produce less melatonin.
Keep Up With Your Exercise Routine
Just as it’s tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day, it’s also tempting to skip your morning run or your evening workout session. But, taking part in regular exercise will help to give you more energy during the day, and also help you to get better sleep at night. Recent research indicates that exercise decreases sleep complaints and insomnia in patients. In fact, the effects of aerobic exercise on sleep appears to be similar to those of sleeping pills!
Whether you go for a morning power walk, a lunchtime jog or practice an online yoga lesson in the evening, you should aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week.
Following the above tips should hopefully help you to sleep well and still feel energised despite the cold winter. By also making sure that your sleep environment is optimal, you are assisting your body to get better rest so it can perform better. And, after all, spring should be on the way very soon.