1. We need more sleep in winter months. Give yourself permission.
Our body wants more sleep in the cooler seasons. The first has to do with less light and our natural sleep hormone production. The lack of natural light in autumn and winter suppresses the release of melatonin, the hormone that tells our body it’s time to get ready for sleep.
In summer, when sunset is later, our melatonin signals come later. Going to bed later is our bodies natural response to light cues. But because nightfall is earlier in winter, and there is less light overall, we are genuinely more tired earlier in the day. Going to bed earlier is our bodies natural response to light cues.
And should be our response too! More often than not, at this time of year, you may find yourself wanting to burrow under your covers. Yet a lot of us don’t. We push through with our exercise regimes, waking up at 5.30 am for that boot camp forfeiting that extra hour of sleep. This may be negatively impacting your health more than you realise. And I’m a fitness trainer saying this 🤣 but I firmly believe in it. It’s health and fitness in that order! If your natural instinct is to keep charging through your routine the next time you feel low on energy, give yourself permission to sleep.
2. Our movement patterns change with the changing light but we too can go with the flow
Our movement patterns change when it is dark, cold or raining. It’s harder to motivate yourself to get outside and exercise. This often means we are more sedentary in the cooler months.
Which affects our energy because the benefits of movement extend far beyond weight loss and movement: it’s important for full activation of our lymphatic system to help the body’s detox pathways, healthy body systems critical for mood balancing and increased insulin sensitivity.
If you struggle to include daily movement of any sort as the season’s change, find a form of indoor exercise you like or you can even do a little home yoga or workout session. I love to string 2-3 mobility exercises together with interesting transitions and try and ‘flow’ then 3-5 times thru. Try adding music and keep up with the rhythm.
3. Up your warning, nutrient and digestive density in winter foods
Did you top up your vitamin D this past summer? Vitamin D controls the DNA of our cells and helps control belly fat through the role of insulin. It plays a key role in the production of pancreatic enzymes and controls the level of calcium in the blood and bone.
We absorb vitamin D from the sun through our skin. However few of us realise that this can only happen, in summer, during the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. This is because the UVB sun rays are only effective in penetrating the atmosphere and our skin’s thickest layer when the sun is at its highest strength.
So as the seasons change it’s important to get enough:
– Vitamin D from food sources such as sardines, mackerel, egg yolks and organic pork lard.
– Try to include warming spices and herbs such as garlic and ginger which both have proven medicinal qualities.
– Include slow cooked means and steamed vegetables in your diet – as opposed to salads – to give your digestive system a break. My favourite way to eat seasonal produce is to saute them in bone broth.
Bone broth contains healing compounds such as glutamine, collagen, proline, glycine and gelatin. These are essential amino acids and trace minerals that work within the intestines to help seal the gut. They’re easily absorbed, allowing them to provide cells with the direct building blocks needed to heal the gut lining.
Easily digestible and very soothing, bone broth is also great for bone health, your skin and also helps support the immune system. Here’s my favourite bone broth recipe.
The changing weather conditions affect more than our routine outdoor time and activities — it actually disrupts some of our body’s natural processes too. Take the time to slow down and check in, up your nutrient density and digestive strength and listen to the earlier waning sun and chill out this winter for long term nourishing health.