A Year of Lockdowns and moving into Spring
Tomorrow (23rd March 2021) will be a whole year since the country’s first official lockdown started. An incredibly difficult year for most of us and likely that every single person in the country has been affected in some way. Many of us are looking forward to sunshine and we tend to associate Springtime in the UK as one of coming out of our semi-hibernating winter state, with the anticipation of rising energy and new growth due to more daylight hours and the weather warming up. However we recent events, it’s not surprising that rather than feeling energised and raring to go with this oncoming Springtime, we may in fact be feeling tired, a greater need for sleep, even weariness, irritability and headaches.
But it’s not just pandemic fatigue that is causing these symptoms. It’s quite common as the seasons fluctuate to experience fatigue, in part due to increased production of serotonin, as the days get longer, whilst still experiencing raised levels of hormones that are more active during the winter. And it’s this hormonal change that is thought to partly contribute to “Spring fatigue”, along with the fact our bodies take time to adjust to the new season times with Daylight Saving, from which we experience a desynchronisation with the daylight cycle, the clock time and our sleep-wake rhythm.
In addition, our immune system may become more active as pollen levels begin to rise, and this impairs quality of sleep. Plus as a reaction to rising daily temperatures, the blood vessels in the body dilate, which lowers blood pressure and may possibly contribute to fatigue. Combined with a winter diet that may have decreased fresh vegetables and nutrient-dense food, and levels of vitamin D low from lack of sunlight exposure, it’s no wonder your body needs a little support to ease yourselves into Spring. Below are some tips to restore your energy levels.
Resynchronising your body clock this Spring
Dr Natalie Dautovich from the National Sleep Foundation interview suggests that “Light plays a very important role in helping us to feel alert and awake, so when we wake up during the dark period, that’s not our body’s natural desire. And so to help with that, make sure to be exposed to sufficient bright light during the day, especially during the morning, to help with those feelings of alertness.” This means taking a walk outside in the morning to be in daylight and locate your morning working place near a large window beaming with natural light to avoid that midday slump.
We know how important it is to have a healthy sleeping environment: cool, dark and quiet. While we should also keep our smartphones out of the bedroom (or at least on Airplane mode) to remove the temptation to be on our phones, any noise disruption as well as the Wi-Fi interference, we have little control over the birds outside the bedroom window that are ready to chirp away at 5 o’clock in the morning or external traffic noise. If external noise seems to be the biggest sleep killer for you, consider earplugs as well as blinds/blackout curtains to reduce noise.
Spring into Exercise
You might be inclined to “amp-up” your exercise routine, and this is a good thing to feeling more energised. However, if you tend to exercise later in the evening thanks to additional daylight, then doing high-intensity activities too close to bedtime can affect the body’s slow-down process. Even though the seasons are changing, the key to protecting your sleep quality is to keep your daily regime as consistent (and respectful of your sleep routine) as possible – high-intensity exercise is best in the morning when you can also get some daylight, and stretching/restorative type exercise such as yin yoga is best for a wind-down evening routine.
As well as daytime and sleep routines there are also certain food supplements and nutrients that may support energy and sleep. Magnesium is an essential mineral that is needed for many areas of health, including stress reduction and sleep. It helps cells produce ATP, activates enzymes required for the production of hormones including melatonin, as well as aiding muscle relaxation.
But are you getting enough magnesium in your diet? Magnesium deficiency is more common that you think so supplementing your diet with an organic form such as magnesium citrate can help boost levels of this essential mineral. For more information about magnesium, sleep, health and bioavailable supplement forms; please enjoy the Nutrigold blogs on this subject:
5-HTP is an important precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin and can be found in certain well-known herbal remedies for promoting better sleep. Chamomile is widely regarded as a sleep-inducer, and also has other therapeutic benefits in diverse health areas including hay fever, inflammation and gastrointestinal disorders. Passionflower (Passiflora extract) may help treat anxiety and insomnia as supplement extracts appear to boost the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain; a compound that calms brain hyperactivity so may help you relax and sleep better so you have more energy the following day. You can read more here https://blog.nutrigold.co.uk/2018/09/21/are-you-getting-enough-sleep/
Support your endocannabinoid system (ECS) with C*B*D
There’s still very little talk about our ECS even though we all have one and it’s connected to most organs and systems in the body including our sleep-wake cycle and energy production. We can support our ECS through managing stress, which reduces the ECS ability to function, as well as eating foods like oily fish and eggs, rich in omega essential fatty acids, which support the production of the body’s own endocannabinoid. C*B*D (the hemp plant phytocannabinoids Cannabidiol) also helps the ECS to function more effectively so can be used to support sleep quality and also energise us during the day. For more information on the ECS please view the nutrihub webinar https://nutrihub.org/product/endocannabinoid-system-cbd-in-health-disease/
Spring is definitely a time we can enjoy, especially as the limitations in our lives (in place since the beginning of 2021) begin to lift, and with supporting our minds and bodies at this time we will soon be enjoying a more energised time of year.
For more information on functional medicine approach to sleep please enjoy the nutrihub webinar
Dr Elisabeth Philipps PhD BSc (Hons) BSc Nutr Med AFMCP
Dr Elisabeth Philipps is a clinical neuroscientist and functional medicine practitioner, and runs a health consultancy specialising in brain health, the endocannabinoid system and phytocannabininoids including C*B*D. She regularly presents at conferences and events, and provides expert opinion for the national press, specialist healthcare publications and health companies. You can connect with Elisabeth and her clinical ECS support programme via:
www.drelisabethphilipps.com | instagram – @drelisabethphilipps | Twitter – @drphilipps | Linked In – Dr Elisabeth Philipps