Although we are all excited about snow, Christmas, and other winter-related activities, we need to be aware that when winter time comes in Sweden, darkness follows. And this prolonged period with little sunlight makes us feel not only tired but simply deprived of energy. One theory states that it’s all about mindset. But no matter how hard I tell myself that I’m fresh awake, I keep slowly closing my eyes in the middle of study sessions. I finally gathered tips on what we can do to boost energy in the lack of sunlight.
Get enough sleep
As obvious as it may sound, sleep is one of the most underestimated human superpowers. If you want to get the most out of your sleep, make sure that you:
- go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
- get 6-9 hours of sleep (no more/less)
- do not eat 2 hours prior to bed
- unplug at least 30 minutes before going to bed
- avoid napping during the day*
*napping for 10-20 minutes in the afternoon may work for some people but if you are not used to it I do not recommend it, you might as well end up feeling more sleepy afterward
Let the fresh air in
I honestly think that this is probably the best tip of them all. It just works every time. Open the window, step out on the balcony, or take a couple of minutes’ walk outside. The cold winter air is so refreshing and it helps your brain to get more oxygen which improves its function. Stop sitting in your room crying out loud that you feel tired, go out!
I don’t really enjoy working out, so advising you to do that would probably sound hypocritical. So, I’m not gonna do that. Prioritising movement means that you take a daily walk, stretch your body, or do any physical activity that requires your body to move. It can even be cleaning, cooking, or dancing by yourself in the kitchen. It is a great energy booster!
I managed to sign up for Nordic Wellness gym classes and I go there especially when I feel reluctant to go. That’s when I usually need it the most. The classes include yoga, body-balance, or high-intensity trainings. And they can be fun, especially with friends.
Get ready for the day
This especially applies to the days when you only have afternoon lectures or no lectures at all. Make sure to get out of your comfy pyjamas, (take a shower), and get ready for the new day. Put on some presentable clothes, brush your teeth, and fix your hair. Even when no one else sees you, you see you. And if you’re dressed for the day, you’re ready to take action.
Nourish your body
The food you eat is the fuel of the body and greatly influences the way you feel throughout the day. In this period, we often miss out on 3 essential compounds and which foods contain a lot of them:
- Vitamin D: salmon, egg yolks, tuna, mushrooms, some dairy products (e.g. cheese)
- Omega-3: shrimp, salmon, chia seeds, avocados
- Iron: beans, nuts, dried fruit, spinach, or meat
Most vitamins and minerals can also be obtained through supplements but I would not recommend investing into iron supplements unless you are prescribed some, since it is hard to choose the correct concentration you require without proper blood tests.
Other tips regarding food include:
- Eating smaller meals but frequently
- Choose low-glycemic foods such as: green vegetables, nuts, quinoa, mushrooms, tofu, or chicken
- Eat enough protein
- Limit your alcohol intake
The general idea is that drinking a glass of water on an empty stomach in the morning, boosts your metabolism for the day. I would say that glass of water helps to boost your energy at any point in the day, especially if you add lemon to it. Your body cells need water to generate energy and perform their cellular functions. So make sure to get those recommended 1.5-2 L/day.
Oh and by the way, if drinking pure water does not sound so intriguing, you can always make some tea or even a smoothie to spice it up!
Coffee as energy boost
I would close this topic off with coffee as an energy boost. Very popular choice in Sweden and it typically works but it is important to be careful about coffee consumption, despite the current fika culture popular especially in Sweden.
- Don’t drink coffee first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Caffeine is known to interfere with circadian rhythms by suppressing melatonin production and inhibiting adenosine receptors. Melatonin and adenosine are both naturally secreted by the body to boost your energy.
- Get your cup of coffee post-breakfast.
- Limit your caffeine intake to 1-2 cups/day.
- Make sure you don’t consume caffeine after 3 pm because it makes it harder to fall asleep at night. *based on true story*
And the best way to drink your coffee is with friends who can often boost your energy as well. Not sure though if this would work for introverted people. Make sure you socialise too but don’t overdo it.