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Combat spring fatigue: 5 tips

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  • What is spring fatigue?
  • Who is most affected by spring fatigue?
  • What causes spring fatigue?
  • What helps against spring fatigue?
  • How long does spring fatigue last?

Nature is bursting with strength in spring, buds explode into colorful flowers and leaves within a very short time, and the so-called April weather swirls around our ears with strong winds. And we? As temperatures rise, you become more and more tired and listless. Here we explain why this is the case and what helps against it.

What is spring fatigue?

During the transition from winter to summer, many people experience a phase of pronounced fatigue every year. Symptoms such as fatigue, sluggishness, lack of motivation and even headaches, circulatory problems and depressive moods are not uncommon.

“In science, spring fatigue tends to be neglected,” says sleep doctor Dr. Hans-Günter Weeß, board member of the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGMS), “There are no studies on this so far, but there are numerous indications that the phenomenon of spring fatigue actually exists – even if not every person is affected to the same extent.”

Who is most affected by spring fatigue?

“In regions like Germany, where the seasons are marked by strong fluctuations in light and temperature, the phenomenon of spring fatigue occurs more frequently,” explains Dr. Weeß.

People who don’t hide behind the stove in winter, but are active outside a lot, are less likely to experience leaden fatigue in the transitional months. “Women and people with cardiovascular problems also seem to be affected more often,” says Dr. Weeß. But there are no exact statistics.

What causes spring fatigue?

Do you also start to yawn in the spring and there seems to be lead on your eyelids? These are the possible causes:

  • Changing light and temperature: In our latitudes, there is a pronounced change in day length and outside temperature during the spring. “In winter, most people are less physically active,” explains Dr. Weeß, “With the first warmer days, with the sun’s rays and longer days, an activity phase begins that requires a higher energy requirement – that takes energy and makes you tired.”
  • Hormonal and metabolic changes: “During the dark season, our body releases more of the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin, which makes us tired and allows us to sleep well,” explains the sleep doctor. “By switching to longer, brighter days, the body reduces the release of melatonin and instead the serotonin level increases.” Serotonin is the hormonal counterpart of melatonin, which is produced in the brain when it is bright and ensures a good mood and power. “The phase in which the transition takes place seems to be more strenuous for some people than for others,” says book author Dr. Weeß (sleep works wonders).
  • Blood pressure changes: During the cold months of the year, our blood vessels involuntarily constrict, causing blood pressure to rise slightly. With the onset of warmth in spring, the vessels expand again and blood pressure drops slightly. “Until the body gets used to it again, some people may experience spring fatigue symptoms such as tiredness, headaches and dizziness.”

What helps against spring fatigue?

If you feel tired and listless in spring, you can quickly get fit again with these tips and home remedies:

  • Out into the daylight: Some people need more, others less daylight to activate their bodies and be in a good mood. Anyone who suffers from spring fatigue and depressive moods in the winter seems to have a greater need, or was generally outside too rarely in the winter months. Anyone who regularly suffers from spring fatigue should make sure that they get enough daylight in the coming winter, even during the shorter days.
  • Exercise in the fresh air: If spring fatigue hits you, the best thing to do is to go outside into the daylight to get your circulation going and stimulate serotonin production. The body’s own production of vitamin D is also stimulated by daylight on our (uncovered) skin. In the winter months, many people develop a deficiency in this ‘sun hormone’, with numerous consequences for their health, including low mood and difficulty driving, studies show.
  • Vitamin-rich diet: Numerous studies have shown that when you are tired, you quickly turn to sugary foods. You should resist this, no matter how difficult it is. Make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of vitamins and trace elements; they will help you get going again.
  • Alternating showers etc.: “There are some simple methods to get your circulation going, including regular contrast showers, saunas and brush massages,” says Dr. Weeß. Try what works for you.
  • Get enough sleep: “It’s very important to get enough sleep,” says sleep doctor Dr. Weeß, who has developed a program specifically for people with sleep disorders, says, “You shouldn’t let the longer, brighter days seduce you into staying up later.” The body regenerates during sleep, especially in the deep sleep phase. During the transition phase of hormones and metabolism, it is particularly important to achieve sufficient periods of deep sleep.

How long does spring fatigue last?

Spring fatigue is a transitional phase in which the body gets used to increasing temperatures and brighter days. This may take a few weeks for some and just a few days for others. Many people, especially those who are active outside all year round, often do not develop any symptoms that they can consciously notice.

Be patient if you are affected by spring fatigue. Spend at least an hour in the fresh air every day, whether the sun is shining or not. If you still feel too weak for sporting activities, long walks are enough – you will notice that you quickly build up new strength again.

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