Hello darkness my old friend. The end of daylight savings is upon us and you may find yourself feeling more sluggish than usual, and for good reason! When it’s dark outside, your body releases a hormone called melatonin, signaling your body it's time for sleep. During the added nighttime hours of fall and winter, this effect can be a real inconvenience. Yet the show must go on! Below are some safe supplements and essential techniques to help get you through the most lethargic time of year.
In America, one of the easiest and most common ways to combat fatigue is with a good ole “cup of joe” in the morning. But, like most other stimulants, one cup in the AM quickly leads to another in the late morning, then one after lunch, and so on. Caffeine tolerance is quick, and extremely habit forming. Long term use can lead to uncomfortable side effects such as headaches, insomnia, dehydration, anxiety, and restlessness, just to name a few. Theacrine is a supplement used to support focus, attention span and motivation without all these harmful side effects. Studies have shown no tolerance formation even weeks of daily Theacrine use.
Mucuna Pruriens, or Veleven Bean, is another stress reducing, mood supporting supplement recently backed by science. Mucuna Prurien contains large concentrations of L- DOPA, the precursor to Dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for allowing your body to feel pleasure and motivation. Research has shown that by adding the supplement to their diet, subjects showed healthier cortisol levels, especially in men.
If you’ve been looking for a supplement that supports cognitive function and memory, you’ve likely encountered the buzz surrounding choline. Choline is a nutrient needed for your brain and nervous system to regulate memory, mood, muscle control and several other processes. Huperzine A is an extract known to be a powerful acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, meaning, it supports relative levels of acetylcholine by inhibiting the enzymes that cause it to break down. This results in mental energy support, stamina and sustained focus.
Another helpful technique for combating the winter blues is to take a nice walk. Sure it’s chilly, but even all bundled up, the benefits of fresh air and vitamin D are virtually unmatched. Enjoying a lovely day outdoors is an excellent way to get blood flowing and refresh your mind. And if the conditions aren’t right, try joining a gym or exercising indoors. Even as little as 20 min a day and greatly improve your mood and reduce stress. Pair with one of our energy, stamina and mood boosting supplements if you need extra encouragement.
#3 CONTROL STRESS:
Cortisol is an important hormone used within the body to help manage the fight or flight response. It is best described as a kind of alarm within the body that can alert us when and how to react to a stress indicator. Only trouble is when stress is so common, it becomes harder for our bodies to tell when it's an actual true emergency. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. Eventually your body accepts this heightened state as your new norm. This can lead to sleep disruption, loss or increase of appetite, depression, anxiety, irritability, and even contribute to long term effects such as cancer, heart disease or stroke. Most doctors will agree, managing stress is no longer considered a low priority. Some techniques for keeping your cool include daily practices such as listening to music, meditation, journaling, exercising, eating healthy, drinking lots of water, taking a calm bath, burning a favorite candle, hugging a close friend or family member, or even petting your fur baby. The key is taking small breaks throughout the day to treat yourself to something that will clear your mind and keep you healthy.
#4 AVOID SMOKING:
The CDC has reported that cigarettes kill approximately 480,000 Americans alone each year. With such staggering numbers, it is a surprise anyone still resorts to such a dangerous addiction. But in the face of extreme stress and societal pressures, many people find themselves falling back on bad habits. Research shows nicotine replacement products have the best success ratio for smoking cessation. But reformed smokers will tell you over and over no matter what, you have to be ready to quit and committed to change. Developing a plan that involves selecting the day you’ll quit once and for all is an excellent place to start. It may take a few tries so remember to hold yourself accountable, but also give yourself grace.
This may seem like a no brainer during the colder months. After all, we have all this darkness, why not just sleep the months away? But be careful not to go into full hibernation mode. Excessive sleep can throw off your body's circadian rhythm and actually lead to memory issues, problems with decision making, and low energy during the day. Your circadian rhythm is essentially the body's internal clock, broken into 24 hour cycles. This rhythm regulates the sleep wake cycle within the body. To establish healthy sleep habits, start off by creating a set sleep schedule. This will help your body adjust to set times of slumber and wakefulness. Another important habit is to avoid caffeine or exercise before bed. Instead, try drinking caffeine free tea such as chamomile and read a calming book before bed. This will help prevent sleep schedule fluctuations and trigger your sleep/awake responses at more appropriate times.
Taking care of yourself should always be a priority. And if you put the time and effort into keeping yourself healthy your body will give you a strong immune system, healthy sleep schedule, and energy boost you need to get you through the long months ahead. Your body will thank you! Stay well!