Winter is approaching, and you can feel it. In the morning, we are not awakened by the sun but by our alarm clock. Winter is a period that many find challenging. You may experience the well-known winter dip or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This dip is accompanied by feelings of sadness and a lack of motivation. Do you recognize this? In this blog, we delve into the causes of the winter dip and what you can do to prevent (or alleviate) it.
The Day and Night Rhythm
Let's start with some knowledge. Daylight is crucial, not only light but also darkness. The alternation of these two is a rhythm that humans have adhered to for years. This is why we have daylight saving time, but our days are also structured around it. At least, that was mainly the case in the past. In the modern era we live in now, the well-known day and night rhythm is under pressure. Work continues into the late or even early hours, and we often travel through different time zones. These factors, among others, disrupt our rhythm, and this has both short-term and long-term consequences for our overall health. You may ask, 'why is that?'
Our biological clock is a simple mechanism based on our eyes. When it is light, we wake up. As evening approaches, we get tired and go to sleep. This is related to the presence and absence of light. In the morning and during the day, the sun is bright with a blue undertone, stimulating the production of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that breaks down proteins, releasing glucose in the process. As you may know, glucose is energy for the body. As evening falls and the sun dims, it also changes color. This red, warm undertone, along with the absence of blue light, slowly signals your brain that it's time to go to sleep. In response, your body produces melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, as it induces a feeling of fatigue.
Blue Light from Electronics
Although this natural process works well, our daily activities often disturb it. Blue light is present in various electronics, including TVs, computers, and mobile phones.
Moreover, we, the Dutch, have to deal with fairly long and dark winter months. Ideally, your rhythm should adapt to the longer nights during the winter months. However, like many other Dutch people, you are probably commuting in the dark on your bike or in the car to work. Changing the clock does have some effect, but not enough to keep the rhythm in balance. This results in what many people experience as a winter dip.
Winter Dip and Weight Gain
As a winter dip is mainly a lack of energy, you may feel fatigued, gloomy, and lethargic during this period. Since sleeping longer is not always an option due to daily obligations such as school and/or work, your body demands energy in other ways. And yes, you might feel it coming... that excessive craving for food, mainly carbohydrates, leading to weight gain.
3 Tips Against the Winter Dip
Now that you know what a winter dip is and why you may experience it, what can you do about it? The tips are surprisingly simple and easy to implement; they only require a bit of discipline.
- Avoid electronic screens at least 2 hours before bedtime;
- Ensure you go to bed a bit earlier, allowing your body more time to rest;
- Start the day with a breakfast rich in healthy carbohydrates like oatmeal, a Meal Shake, or Protein Pancakes to give your body the necessary energy.
We wish you success in applying these tips to alleviate or prevent the winter dip. If you have questions, feel free to contact us for more information!