So it's that time of year, February, the time of year where you may be longing for spring, but it seems so far off. The days are growing, but we haven't reached the equinox, so it's still dark more often than it is light. Maybe some of the birds are starting to show up again, or if you're in the south, they may be leaving again. Either way spring is just not here yet, and you are tired. It's still cold, you still do not want to get out of bed bright and early to greet the day, you just want to finish your winter hibernation in peace. Well maybe this is you, maybe it is not, but it is DEFINITELY ME. February is a drag. So what can you do to give yourself a boost and beat the fatigue? Well if your healthy and do not have a chronic illness causing the exhaustion, read on. Here's some ideas for you, some will be redundant, others will be new to you.
First off, get to bed at a reasonable time, In Chinese Medicine, my specialty, it is recommended that one be in bed before midnight because according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the most restorative sleep occurs between midnight and 3am. In addition, practice good sleep hygiene. Turn off all the lights, make sure you are not working or on your phone while you are in bed. It is important that your brain gets conditioned to sleep when you are in your bed.
Second, aim for 7-8 hrs of sleep. If you suffer from insomnia, see a professional. There are several researched natural remedies to increase sleep. From acupuncture, to herbalism, to magnesium supplementation, these things have been found to help increase length of sleep time.
Don't miss your work out. Shoot for three times a week with a minimum workout time of 30 min. Whether it is running or walking or going to the gym, any physical activity is going to help you rest easier because your body will burn the extra calories and sugar you may have consumed throughout the day, plus your body will NEED the rest to restore itself. Even running stairs at work counts. (That's what I do sometimes on my break when I know I'm not going to make it to the gym).
Get your vitamin D levels checked. Many people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency and do not even realize it. This is because we spend so much time inside nowadays. We're in the our offices working 8-12 hrs a day or in school or enjoying our air conditioned homes or avoiding the cold out doors. We're just not outside like we used to be. In addition, not everyone can synthesize vitamin D from the sun. People who are vitamin D deficient can suffer from depression, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and several other issues,
Get your vitamin B-12 checked. We do not make vitamin B-12 ourselves and because our food system is largely comprised of processed foods, may people are not getting enough B-12 and are suffering from Vitamin B-12 deficiency. People may also lack the enzyme to obtain B-12 from their food.
Check your cortisol levels and adrenals to make sure you're not suffering from adrenal fatigue or bombarded by excessive levels of cortisol in the blood. This is even more important if you suffer from insomnia. It could be that your body is releasing cortisol and adrenal hormones at the wrong time, which might be the cause of keeping you awake at night.
Finally, there are some very nice herbs that support the adrenals and give a natural boost over time. Speak to your Naturopathic Doctor or other alternative primary care provider to learn more about the following herbs.
Reishi Mushroom- used extensively in China for increased stamina, longevity, and increased immune function.
Rhodiola- also known as the Arctic herb, it has been used widely in the Scandinavian nations like Denmark, Norway, and Sweden to combat fatigue, restore energy, and decrease anxiety.
Eleuthro- this used to be known as Siberian Ginseng, but was not part of the ginseng family, so it was renamed. This herb was used in Siberia, Russia where the days are very dark in the winter and used by the Russian military to improve focus, decrease activity in the adrenal cortex, and to support endurance. This is one of my favorite adaptogens.
Triphala- This is a medicinal food blend used in India as part of Ayurvedic medicine. It is composed of 3 plants Amla, Bibitaki, and Haritaki. This blend is great over the long term and is used to increase longevity, decrease sexual dysfunction, build the body's natural immunity, and detoxify.
Before starting any new diet or exercise programs or starting any new herbs, please consult with a qualified practitioner because not all of these suggestions are right for everyone. In addition, certain herbs can interact with prescription medicines, so please consult a physician if you have any chronic illnesses or are taking any prescription drugs BEFORE you start any new herbal treatments.
For more information on combating fatigue, please check out these sources.
K.P. Khalsa offers many natural health webinars at the following link. Some of this information is from a series of classes I took with him as continuing education.