Top 5 Winter Bio-Hacks

Winter Biohacks

Winter is coming (at least in Europe) and as the nights draw in and stay for longer, getting up and staying energised and happy this winter becomes a priority for me. In this post, I’ll share with you my top 5 winter bio-hacks to help you feel super this winter.

[1] Blue Light Blocking Glasses

When we are exposed to artificial light – especially in the evening – it can fool our body into thinking it’s really daylight. The light has a spectrum of wavelengths (colours) and during the day we want ‘blue’ light – like the sky. But by sunset, the blue has gone and we’re not expecting it (from our body’s perspective). If we do get exposed to it, from lighting, smartphones, TV’s, Tablets and so on, then our body ‘thinks’ it’s still daylight and it can suppress the sleep hormone – melatonin. Melatonin, in addition to helping us sleep, also plays a role in fighting cancer, keeping us youthful, a healthy weight and probably more besides. 

Because the nights are longer, we tend to have the artificial lights on from quite early – maybe all day. This basically screws with our biology. My advice – buy some blue light blocking glasses and put them on from about 3-4 hours before you are planning on going to bed. If you are out and about, there are less intense varieties that aren’t as effective, but still do some good. Or you could not care what anyone thinks and just wear the craziest ones you can find. I’d caution about driving in them, just in case though!

[2] Daylight Alarm clock

I got a daylight alarm clock a few years ago, and it really helped with waking up in the winter. Ideally, we need to try and mimic nature as much as possible. In nature, we would be waking up with a sunrise – not a loud alarm clock and then hitting the light switch and getting a sudden shock to the system. A daylight alarm clock mimics the sunrise in the sense it gradually gets brighter and brighter. Mine takes 30 minutes to reach full brightness, although I tend to wake up after it’s been on for 5 minutes. So you need to play around with the timings to have it wake you when you want to. I do use an alarm clock with sound for back up and usually after I know I’ll have most likely woken up from the light. 

The lamps are exactly the spectrum of light that the sun emits, but the principle of waking gradually with light feels softer on the body and stress levels. It’s really helped me in the winter and thoroughly recommend. 

[3] S.A.D. Lamps

S.A.D. Seasonal Affective Disorder. I think people try and make anything a disorder these days! Anyway, basically many people feel a little depressed or ‘blue’ in the winter months. We need the sun! That’s why. We need light. And we don’t get much of it in the Northern Hemisphere in the winter. 

I have a bright 10,000 lux lamp that I shine first thing in the morning, after I’ve woken up with the daylight alarm clock and meditated, anyway. I usually use my SAD lamp when I’m exercising in the morning for 15-30 mins. Sometimes I use it on and off until around 12pm. It depends on whether it’s really cloudy, dark, rainy or I’m not out much. Shining a bright light like this helps lift my mood, and certainly there is evidence it works. Of course, natural light is best – and even a cloudy day has quite a few lux of light. I don’t find it consistent though, and so for the last few years have been using an S.A.D. lamp and find it’s helped massively. to help me wake up, feel energised and survive the winters.

[4] Magnesium

I’ve mentioned Magnesium on other blogs but it’s a vital mineral that many people are deficient in. In fact, over 300 bio enzymic processes in the body need it. So that’s 300 things that aren’t working optimally if you are deficient. More on why we are deficient here

So, year round I use it, but it’s especially important in the winter, as our body’s are exposes to new colder weather, and then going from hot (being inside and on public transport or cars with heaters) to being cold outside, and then again inside. Basically we need to build resilient bodies. Magnesium is one such component, and bio-hack I love. Use a spray though (or take multiple Epsom/Magnesium salt baths weekly). I believe it’s better absorbed through the skin and you won’t get ‘disaster pants’ that you might if you orally supplement with it!

[5] Sleep More

Why should we sleep the same amount year round? We shouldn’t. In the winter typically we might need more sleep. Again, thinking about the natural cycle. If we go to bed a little after sunset and rise after sunrise, then in the summer we sleep less, and winter sleep more. We use more energy in the winter (keeping warm) and so need to recover more. 

We should adapt our sleeping patterns accordingly and not give ourselves such a hard time with it. Of course, there are limits, but the point is that perhaps in the summer you need 7.5 hours of sleep and in the winter you might need 8.5 hours. OK. Figure it out for you. Sleeping helps boost your immunity, and provided you’re not sleeping too much (usually 9+ hours, but this depends on your age, whether you are ill, whether you are an athlete or training a lot and so on), then you should be okay with more sleep in the winter. 

So there we have them. Blue light blocking glasses, a daylight alarm clock, an S.A.D. lamp, Magnesium spray/baths and sleeping more!

What do you think? Agree? Have you tried any of these? What are your favourite hacks for surviving the winter in the Northern hemisphere (or even Southern). Let me know. 

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