More calories, sleep and gloom in winter!

Familiar winter phenomena: suddenly you have a huge craving for chocolate and cake. In addition, when you wake up you have the feeling that you would prefer to stay in bed all day and you actually don’t want to do anything at all. And you actually don’t really feel like going to your parents’ house. How come? Why does this happen in winter? And what can you do about it?

In winter we eat more…

A study among 3,000 Britons showed that we eat approximately 680 more calories per day in the winter months. Women eat even more calories every day, around 750. This is because we have the feeling that we need “more” in winter to stay fit.

We also sleep more…

In winter the light changes: the light intensity decreases, the sun rises later and therefore we have fewer hours of light in a day. People often go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. And when it is dark, our body produces the hormone Melatonin, which makes us tired. Melatonin is also seen as our “biological clock”. The biological clock is an internal clock that is located in a specific part of the brain, in the area behind our eyes. When it becomes light again, the production of Melatonin stops. Due to a greater production of this substance, we ultimately sleep more. A quarter of respondents in the British survey sleep 10 hours every night during winter, compared to seven and a half hours during spring and summer. Women suffer from fatigue more than men. It is probably due to the fact that women feel tired more quickly that they consume more calories than men.

And we are also more likely to become gloomy and grumpy…

The research showed that men in particular are less social in winter. About 20% report feeling sad and moody. Many people suffer from a kind of “winter blues”. This is often only temporary. The causes for these changes in mood are not completely known, but Melatonin plays a role here too.
People simply have less or no desire to get up, become grumpy when they have to, find the world gloomy because there is little sun and it is almost always dark, find it too cold, want to eat but gain weight because of it and actually want to does not gain weight, is tired and wants to sleep and therefore does not feel like meeting up with others…. And so all these phenomena have an effect on each other.

What can you do about it?

If you are aware of where your behavior comes from, you can try to remedy it. The solution for these negative effects: less Melatonin, which causes the biological clock to become more synchronized. This makes you feel less sleepy, you have less need to eat and you are also less grumpy.

Light therapy

A good tool is light therapy. During light therapy you are exposed to white light of a strong intensity (10,000 lux). It is important that this light reaches the eyes so that the melatonin is reduced. Light therapy is best applied during the day. In summer there is almost no Melatonin during the day, but in winter it is produced and must therefore be reduced. If light therapy is applied in the evening, it can cause insomnia.

Don’t give in to sleep

Although you often have a great need to sleep, even if you have already slept more than normal, it is not always wise to give in to this. Your natural rhythm is disrupted, and there is a good chance that you will no longer be able to sleep at night. Then you are extra tired the next day, you want to sleep again, and you end up not having any sleep in the evening. It goes on and on like this.

Provide good, bright lighting

Not only light therapy helps, regular lamps also provide more light and therefore less Melatonin.

Get outside & keep moving!

Even though it is cold and you may not feel like going outside, it is very healthy and good for you. Go for a walk, cycle or run outside. It is a good compensation for the extra calories. In addition, it is fresh and light, so you are immediately “awake” again. There is a good chance that you will feel better if you have been outside for half an hour than if you have been sleeping on the couch. In addition, exercise is good for concentration, makes you happy and cheerful, gives you more resistance and therefore makes you less susceptible to diseases.

Healthy eating

Even though you probably crave sugars and fats, it is better not to eat them. These types of nutrients only have a positive effect in the short term. A piece of chocolate will make you feel fit for much less time than an apple.

  • Drinking water and tea is always allowed. Coffee, on the other hand, only provides temporary energy and should therefore not be drunk in excess.
  • Vitamin C stimulates the immune system, making you less likely to get sick. These vitamins are mainly found in vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, peppers and various types of cabbage, but also in fruit such as mandarin oranges, oranges and kiwis.
  • Enough Vitamin B, zinc and magnesium ensure that you become less tired and grumpy. Vitamin B and zinc are found in shellfish, grains, nuts and seeds, cheese, cocoa, mushrooms.
  • Vitamin D is originally produced by sunlight. Because you hardly see the sun in winter, it is important to get these vitamins from your food. These are found in oily fish, eggs and dairy.

If necessary, supplements can be taken as a supplement.
Although it may be difficult to combat fatigue, a bad mood and the urge to eat, the most important thing is not to give up. Where there is a will, there is a way, even if it may take a little more effort. And luckily it always ends up being summer again!

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