You may still be in a chilling wintery mood, having another cup of tea, looking at a snowman outside, or rushing back home way after the sun comes down. Either way, you probably still dream of those late summer sunset views. Don’t you worry, time flies, they are just around the corner. But first, you would have to accept a cheerful open-air invitation by spring and the extra sleepiness of spring fatigue that goes with it.
This blog post is a kind reminder that spring fatigue is coming at you, and you have to be an early bird to succeed in coping with it: Don’t fight it. Prevent it.
What is spring fatigue?
Spring fatigue or springtime lethargy is a natural temporary mood condition that often manifests with physical symptoms. Low energy, weariness, laziness, weakness, frustration, uncontrollable sleepiness (despite an adequate amount of sleep), headaches, sometimes aching joints, and a lack of drive are the most common symptoms.
Experienced by many, this phase of tiredness is normal and expected but shouldn’t be confused with more severe medical conditions that need to require professional help. If your recovery takes longer than three weeks, you may want to check with your doctor for sleep disorders.
On average, spring fatigue takes about two weeks to overcome, and in the northern hemisphere, the symptoms usually arise from mid-March to mid-April.
Why do we face this challenge in spring?
Blossom by blossom, spring begins. It’s nature’s way of saying “wake up and stay alive,” because the sun is shining bright and there is so much daylight you can do anything and everything – work, sports, social gatherings – you get inspired and ready for the new season. Or are you? You expect this natural flow of energy to kick in and uplift you, but instead, you just don’t feel like it. Wondering what’s wrong with nature’s ways? Nothing. There is a simple explanation.
People, like all animals, regulate their hormone levels in accord with external stimuli such as light and temperature. When it’s cold and dark outside, the body slows down its metabolism in an attempt to save energy and protect itself. It also produces more of the sleep hormone melatonin, resulting in a pronounced need to sleep. Whereas in spring, the sunlight causes the body to release more of the “activity hormone” serotonin. Body temperature rises, blood vessels dilate, and blood pressure sinks – our body requires time to adapt to the physical changes. Hence, the two challenging weeks of extra sleepiness.
In many areas of the world, springtime lethargy and the switch to daylight saving time coincide. It’s time to “spring forward” and move that clock an hour ahead, resulting in less sleep that first night and more darkness than we’re used to in the next morning. When sleep is lost abruptly, it can take us about a week to adapt.
Another factor that comes into play is seasonal allergies. Pollen allergies are common during the springtime and often disrupt the deeper, most restorative phases of sleep. Make sure purity and comfort in your bedroom are present – clean or change your air filter frequently to help manage your allergies and choose all-natural materials for your bedding and furniture.
Air pollution is also an obstacle to proper rest. Indoor air can be five times more polluted than the outside air. Much of the air quality in your room is dictated by the materials used for furnishing and building your house. Creating a healthy environment at home is fundamental for restorative sleep.
How can you prevent spring fatigue?
As mentioned above, starting early is the best strategy. Here are a few simple means to alleviate the symptoms of springtime lethargy.
Be the first to approach nature: seek sunlight to join nature’s flow
Sunbathing helps to improve blood circulation and eliminates toxins from the body. It is also necessary for the absorption of calcium by the bones. Research shows that spending time in the sun promotes the synthesis of vitamin D3 in the human body, which can boost your mood and result in better sleep.
Knowing that light stimulates the production of serotonin (also known as the happy hormone), you can spend more time outdoors even when there is less of it. Stay under the sunlight any chance you have so you can adapt your body to the higher concentration of UV rays.
Make sure you breathe fresh air – inside and out
Fresh air gives you more energy and a sharper mind, strengthens the immune system, improves blood pressure and heart rate. Be it green park views or mountain lake adventures, think of ways to be closer to nature. Hobbies like gardening and hiking invite you to get outside and take charge of your own need for a healthy lifestyle and beautiful surroundings.
While all of these activities are dependent on the weather, don’t forget that the air inside our homes may be much more toxic than the one outside. The furniture we have at home is one of the primary culprits of VOC emissions. One solution is having a collection of houseplants – an army that absorbs harmful gasses and purifies the air. A more potent approach would be to build your bedroom with all-natural materials and ensure the daily dose of fresh air your body needs.
Eat plenty of fresh food and hydrate
To make the body fit for spring, you may want to increase your fruits and vegetable intake. This is the best way to supply the body with an extra portion of vitamins and minerals. However, drinking a sufficient amount of essential fluids should also be included as part of a prevention program – sometimes you feel tired simply because you are mildly dehydrated.
Eat a substantial breakfast to boost your metabolism and give the body energy to burn. The brain relies on glucose for fuel, so choose slowly digested carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, oatmeal, and bananas. A balanced breakfast also includes protein and healthy fats found in nuts, eggs, yogurt, etc.
Eat healthily and don’t skip meals – reduce the amount of high fat, high sugar, and high salt foods. Try to eat regularly to maintain your energy levels throughout the day but don’t overeat because large meals can, in turn, drain your energy.
Reduce your caffeine intake
Be careful not to overuse caffeine. Drinking coffee is probably the most common way to wake up and stay alert, but the effect wears off very quickly. Caffeine acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system by promoting the release of adrenaline – a hormone that is useful during a state of an emergency but suboptimal for your routine. Once you are out of the caffeine-induced adrenaline, you face exhaustion. Hence, you want more of the magical drink to make more adrenaline flow, resulting in a vicious circle of unhealthy behavior where you become more and more irritable.
The best way to cut out caffeine is to gradually reduce your intake of coffee, black tea, and cola drinks. If you are not ready to say goodbye to these, then try taking only one caffeine drink per day, preferably before noon.
Go and outrun laziness – move frequently and move freely
Any type of exercise that you can add up to your routine will do the work. Regular movement is probably the best way to release serotonin and get your body ready for the spring. Physical activity gets you more energetic, while a sedentary lifestyle is a known cause of fatigue. You have to be careful not to overdo it, of course, so if you haven’t done anything in a long time, just start walking and make each walk longer than the previous one, your dog will be the happiest.
You never liked sports? Odds are you have a favorite song, though. And this means you can dance to it. Just turn up the volume and let your soul lead. It’s good for your body and it’s good for your mind. Just don’t stay late on the dance floor because it will make it difficult to fall asleep. Get done with your activities at least 2 hours before bedtime so that your body can relax and your mind calm down.
If by any chance, despite these prevention practices you do experience spring fatigue, the best course of action is to establish a bedtime routine, follow a consistent sleep schedule, and keep at it until your energy levels are back.