This Sunday, it's time to wind your clocks back and indulge yourself with an extra hour of blissful sleep. As the days grow shorter, hibernation temptation is beginning to set in… so how can you get out of bed on the right side after the clocks go back this Sunday?
Our sleep expert, Dr Nerina, explains how:
During the colder months people are proven to be less likely to want to engage in social activities, instead opting to remain curled up in the warmth of their homes. The Daily Express reported on a survey conducted by GoCompare.com, which revealed that six in ten respondents said that they preferred to stay at home on the sofa with food and drink rather than go out, with 24% admitting they are altogether less social.
Don't let the darkness get the better of your mood. In the working week, the average adult can expect to see just three and a half hours of natural light per day. Exposure to sunlight increases the brain's release of the happy hormone, serotonin. In the winter months, your serotonin levels can dip, so try to get outside as much as possible. Even just half an hour on your lunch break will make a huge difference.
You can boost your falling serotonin levels with your favourite chocolate! Dark chocolate contains tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin. The lack of sun exposure may leave your body craving tryptophan… so don't be too hard on yourself for having a square or two of the good stuff!
A recent study conducted by Harvard Medical School showed adults sleep for 2.7 hours longer per day during the winter - yet they still long for more. Once again, the lack of sunlight is partly to blame. The darker days cause your brain to produce more of the hormone melatonin, which promotes fatigue and therefore makes you sleepy. On top of this, the shorter days disrupt your sleep cycle, which means that the hours we do manage to grab are less effective. Create your own perfect sleeping environment by adding layers to your bedding and placing a hot water bottle at your feet, thereby promoting a better quality of sleep.
Exercise releases stress relieving hormones and gives you a clearer, more positive outlook on your day ahead. In the same Harvard study, one in five adults revealed that they cut down on exercise in the winter, whilst 18 per cent were more likely to pick up the snacks, both of which contribute to weight gain, with an obvious effect on self confidence. The seasonal change causes many to start craving carbohydrates and while these are a vital part of any diet, it's important to strike a balance. If you need a snack, fill up on foods like walnuts, bananas and tomatoes: they all help your body to produce serotonin and will lift your mood.