You're not imagining it, you may well be feeling sleepier and more fatigued now that the short days and long nights are drawing in, as it could be a problem termed 'winter tiredness.'
'Winter tiredness' occurs when the body produces increased levels of melatonin, which is the hormone controlling sleepiness. Melatonin production is linked to light and dark, so less sunlight means more melatonin, and therefore feeling sleepier.
If you think you're experiencing winter tiredness, and with the dark evenings well and truly here, try these tips to boost your energy and beat the fatigue.
- Spend as much time outdoors in sunlight as you can during the day, as getting as much sunshine and daylight as possible is key. Why not take a walk outside on your lunch break, as it will up your daylight exposure as well as give you an energy lift from the exercise.
- It's still important to get a good night's sleep to help you feel well rested and refreshed for the day ahead, but if you're one of the estimated 21 million Brits who suffer with poor sleep, this may be trickier than it sounds. Traditional herbal remedies can help, and valerian root extract has been used for centuries as a trusted sleep aid due to its natural sedative effect. This soothing ingredient can be found in Kalms Night tablets (www.kalmsnight.com), to relieve sleeplessness. Drift off to sleep peacefully and wake up ready to face the day.
- Keep moving and ensure you continue to exercise regularly as the endorphins released during exercise will help give you a much needed boost, and regular exercise should also help you achieve a better night's sleep. It's also important to maintain a healthy weight, as obesity has been linked to increased daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
- Deficiencies in vitamin D and iron can make you feel more tired, so it's important to ensure you're getting enough via your diet. We usually make vitamin D from sunlight during the summer months, during winter you can up your intake through food sources such as oily fish, eggs, fortified cereals and spreads. Good sources of iron include dark green leafy vegetables, lean red meat, nuts, beans, lentils and wholegrains.
- Stress often leaves you feeling energyless and drained, so it's imperative to address the root cause of any excess stress you may be feeling, whether it's an unrealistic workload or relationship crisis. You can also build relaxation time into your day and a quick strategy to help restore calm is a few minutes of mindful breathing, taking slow deep breaths and focusing on nothing but the motion and sensations of the breath. You can learn more about this technique via the NHS Choices Mindfulness pages.