It is common for people to feel tired and sluggish as fall fades and winter takes over. This increased fatigue is associated with a few factors that relate to the decreased amount of sunlight as well as the temperature of the season. Sunlight effects the body's production of certain chemicals in the brain, specifically serotonin, which is what regulates our mood and pleasure centers. When this hormone isn't being produced properly as a result of shorter days and less time outside people tend to feel more depressed. Sunlight on skin also stimulates the production of Vitamin D, which is involved in many bodily functions from energy production to increasing your ability to fight a cold. Getting proper amounts of vitamin D could be the difference between getting that cold or flu and staying healthy through the holidays.
The third factor contributing to the "winter blues" is lack of excercise/activity. When it gets cold outside people tend to not go outside and play sports or do activities that are normal during warmer seasons. Increasing your time outside during daylight hours doing physical activity such as playing catch or building a snowman will help prevent seasonal depression or fatigue. If you can't find the time to go outside or it's too cold to expose much of your skin to the sun you can try going to a tanning bed and getting UVB light that way (Always consult with your doctor for specifications and instructions before starting a tanning plan). You can also get special lights in your home that produce appropriate UV levels to stimulate neurotransmitters and vitamin D production if you are unable to travel or be outside. Whichever way you choose to, get some light this winter and if you're able- get outside and enjoy nature! Doing so will help you stay happy, healthy, and start your new year off in good spirits!
1. Vitamin D effects on energy production (Click Here)
2. Vitamin D effects on immune system (The Physicians Desk Reference. 2006 Thompson Healthcare and Click Here)