Fatigue in Winter: how to stay in shape?
Are you lacking in tone, not in good spirits, do you want to doze off or have a greater craving for sugar? You may be one of 1 in 5 French people affected by seasonal depression between the end of October and the end of March.
What causes this fatigue and how to deal with it?
The importance of hydration in winter
And, yes, hydration is one of the keys to your well-being throughout the year and even more during cold weather! When temperatures drop, our body uses a significant amount of fluid and calories to thermoregulate the body and vital organs. In addition, an aggravating factor, the feeling of thirst decreases and we tend to drink less regularly and in smaller quantities! Being aware of this winter-specific issue is key to maintaining an adequate level of energy.
It is important to spot the signals and symptoms sent by our body indicating a lack of hydration . Chapped lips as well as drier, brittle skin are a strong sign of this problem and should prompt you to pay more attention to your hydration levels. In addition, the cold combined with a low level of humidity in the air (dry weather) will promote the loss of fluids and electrolytes through perspiration and the respiratory tract (Find the article "Hot and cold climate : the impact on our hydration needs ”).
Hydratis help you optimize your hydration during these winter periods: it allows water to be absorbed and assimilated more efficiently thanks to the creation of a hypotonic drink and provides you with mineral salts and trace elements . Start the day with a Hydratis lozenge in a large glass of water and add one to two lozenges in a gourd during the day to drink regularly and effectively.
Sun, vitamin D and seasonal infections
The fatigue of winter can be explained in various ways, the body must indeed face the cold, deficiencies and diseases.
In winter, the length of the day decreases causing a significant drop in luminosity - which goes from 50,000 lux on a sunny day in summer to 5 times less during a day in winter - and this leads to a disruption of the biological clock. or otherwise called " light deficiency".
It is the skin that, when exposed to sunlight, creates significant amounts of vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays a role in general health, including the proper functioning of the immune system . Vitamin D deficiency can increase susceptibility to viral infections – such as respiratory infections and with a poorer immune response. [Immune Modulatory Effects of Vitamin D on Viral Infections]
On the other hand, seasonal infections - such as colds, flu, gastroenteritis - spread more easily and quickly at this time!
- lack of sunlight and vitamin D weaken our immune system
- the drop in temperature and the humidity of the air favor the stability of certain viruses
- gatherings in closed and poorly ventilated spaces favor contamination.
In this particular year (2020 and 2021), confinement and the fear of the coronavirus have limited outdoor physical activity and social interactions which have amplified winter fatigue, nevertheless, there has been a marked reduction in seasonal infections (flu, gastroenteritis, bronchiolitis, etc.).
Dysregulation of the circadian rhythm: a cause of winter fatigue and seasonal depression
In some, this winter fatigue can go as far as " seasonal depression ", called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). What is its origin ?
The circadian rhythm
Chronobiology is a discipline that studies biological rhythms in the body. The best known biological rhythm is the circadian rhythm - a cycle of about 24 hours . Almost all the functions of our body are subject to it: blood pressure, sleep, heart rate but also memory... Our internal clock is mainly based on light and darkness.
When it is out of order, it has an impact on our health, particularly on sleep, mood disorders... and can play an important role in mood. [Chronobiology – Inserm]
Melatonin, fatigue and seasonal depression
Natural light is of course fundamental in the synchronization of the circadian rhythm because it plays an important role in melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep-inducing hormone , involved in regulating mood, sleep, and wakefulness. The decrease in natural light perceived by the eyes leads to the secretion of this hormone, therefore to falling asleep. The increase in the light perceived by our eyes leads to the end of this melatonin secretion (around 7:30 a.m.) and therefore to awakening.
People with Seasonal Affective Disorder are affected by a decrease in day length in winter. They produce more melatonin during the day, which leads to permanent fatigue or even symptoms of depression. [Science & Life]
With a view to well-being, it is important to respect one's biological rhythm: get enough sleep, eat meals at fixed times, stop screens one hour before sleeping (their blue light gives the body the impression that it is still daylight ) etc…
Tips for fighting winter fatigue?
Having a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet and practicing a regular sports activity helps to fight against this phenomenon.
Exposure to daylight
As the winter blues are linked to the lack of daylight, it is necessary to expose yourself to them as soon as possible, at least 30 minutes a day : go out often, especially in good weather, continue to get some fresh air (walking, cycling , jogging…).
If you are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) the most suitable treatment is phototherapy . In the Scandinavian countries, customary of the lack of exposure to light, phototherapy is a common practice. [Treatment of winter depression in Norway] .
This consists of exposing yourself for 30 minutes, preferably in the morning, to a light of 10,000 lux intensity. The phototherapy lamp sends out light that reproduces the spectrum of natural light and stops the production of melatonin and thus regulates the circadian cycle. [Phototherapy in the treatment and prevention of seasonal affective disorder ]
Take care of your diet
The winter blues can make you crave sugary, high-carb foods like chocolate, pasta, and bread, but don't forget to include fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables in your diet. Foods to favor are those rich in vitamins C, D and minerals .
- Acerola, lemon, kiwis, oranges, clementines, grapefruit but also sprouts (Brussels, cauliflower) are rich in vitamin C. [ANSES]
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel, are rich in vitamin D. [ANSES]
During the holiday season, family meals tend to be heavier and greasy, so excess food and alcohol forces the body to work harder. Be sure to hydrate regularly; soups and soups, vegetables rich in fiber and potassium, herbal teas and teas will help the liver to evacuate accumulated toxins.
Also consume foods rich in magnesium , known to promote our immune defences : dark chocolate, nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc.) but also garlic, ginseng, ginger. [ Possible roles of magnesium on the immune system]
Food supplements based on vitamins, minerals, royal jelly and propolis can be useful. Finally, it is important to maintain good hydration and do not forget to drink even in winter!
A few tips for feeling good, even in winter
- Drink enough , 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, consume herbal teas, tea… Good hydration helps prevent the appearance of skin dryness.
- Take care of your skin by using moisturizing cream and balm.
- Avoid overheating the home
- Get enough sleep because it is essential to fight against winter fatigue
- Get out at least 30 minutes a day and take advantage of sunny spells
- Use phototherapy to combat light deficiencies
- Hydrate regularly with hot and cold drinks
- Adapt your diet with seasonal fruits and vegetables