With winter officially upon us it's time to adjust daily routines in order to dodge winter bugs.
It's cold, it's miserable and it's tough to get out and about. But this doesn't mean you can't keep active and healthy.
We know the winter months can be difficult which is why we've sought the insights of local health leader Adain Summerfield. Adain Summerfield (BPhEd, PGDipPH) is a Program Leader at the Otago Polytechnic's Institute of Sport and Adventure.
Summerfield has worked in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years and teaches students about fitness, health and wellness. He offers the following tips to navigate the shorter, colder days ahead:
1. Start Your Day The Right Way
Waking up is harder during winter. It's cold and hitting the snooze button to steal extra time in a warm bed is an inviting option. But this delay to starting the day might not be beneficial if it leads to chasing the clock to meet deadlines later in the day.
"My father taught me to get both feet straight on the floor when the alarm sounds" says Summerfield. "Get up and get into the day."
"Secondly, I always make my bed. This simple task is one I know I can do well and helps to create success momentum. Success momentum is taking small wins to build to bigger goals throughout the day. Once you get in the habit of making your bed, you’ll find yourself engaging in subsequent activities in a more positive way. And worst case scenario, even if your day doesn't go to plan, you'll have a well made bed to climb into at the end of the day!"
2. Make The Most Of The Sun
The days are shorter and things get darker earlier. One of the biggest reasons we get sick in winter is not due to the temperature but a lack of sun.
Summerfield shared his insights. "I have two young kids and I always tell them when the sun's out, we're out. Scooters and balls, jackets and gumboots are always in the car to allow for outside play whenever the opportunity presents.
One of the biggest things about winter is that we're not active and our inclination is to stay inside where it's warm. Most people spend too much time sitting inside a box, looking at a screen. The last thing I want my kids to do after school is sit down at home watching tv. If you're in the sun you're more likely to move.
Try to get out for a walk in the sun and spend at least 10 minutes a day. The cold isn't going to make you sick but a lack of sun will. A great Finnish proverb says there's no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing. An extra layer might be all it takes to disrupt couch time through the colder months.
People who are vitamin D deficient are more likely to get infected with flu viruses. Supplement with vitamin D3 to or spend some time in the sun this winter to ensure you're helping your immune system.
3. Make The Active Option The Easy Option
With temperatures plummeting it's easy to avoid regular exercise. The best goal is to plan inexcusable activity - activity that you can't make excuses to get out of.
Summerfield shared a few of his tips for planning inexcusable activity: "I find non-weather dependent exercise in winter. I play squash which is an indoor sport that isn't subject to the weather. I also play in a team where I'm committed to other members to turn up and play each week. This stops me from finding excuses not to play so I don't let down my teammates.
When planning your exercise make sure you incorporate two factors:
1. It's not weather dependant
2. You have a partner to train or play with
By using these two tools you'll drastically increase your adherence to an exercise regime over the colder nights."
Exercise increases your immune response so ensure that you're able to keep moving through the colder days to stop yourself from falling sick.
By using these three tools you'll be able to increase your wellbeing and health this winter. If you want to reach Adain for more of his advice, shoot him an email here.
The antidote team
Sleep it's something every single person on the planet has in common. It's also one of those things that at some point in our life we all have an issue with.
If you don't get enough sleep you are more prone to obesity, early onset diabetes, cardiovascular disease, decreased immune response and early mortality.
So what is sleep and what do we know about it so far?
The science of sleep is still something that is yet to be fully explored. We know there are two types of sleep. Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
NREM sleep is divided into stages 1, 2, 3, and 4. Each stage has differing characteristics including changes in brain wave activity, eye movements, and muscle tone.
REM sleep is when we dream and our muscle tone relaxes. It’s also associated with memory consolidation, tissue repair, regeneration of neurotransmitters and a number of other bodily processes involved in recovery.
Generally speaking the higher quantity of REM sleep we have the more rested we will feel.
Here are some research backed tools we use to help you rest well and get the right quality of sleep.
Tools and Tricks to Sleep Through the Night
We've all experienced the horror of trying to go to sleep when a majority of things are circulating in our head but this what you need to do to hit the bed with your eyes shut tight.
1. 90 minutes before bed - play Tetris
You read that right. Play Tetris.
This is known as "visual overwriting" this can help overwrite negative visualisation, which has seen to have applications in addiction disorders, preventing PTSD and most importantly for us, onset insomnia.
This was researched by Dr. Jane McGonigal who claims the highly visual nature of the game occupies the visual processing centre of the brain so that you can't imagine or obsess over those issues that have plagued your day.
The free version to download and use on your phone works perfectly.
2. 60 minutes before bed - turn off all devices that can deliver notifications, messages or alerts
It probably won't come as shock to many of you that your cellphone, laptop and tablet are preventing you from sleeping.
Using cell phones in bed, interferes with the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Functionally, cellular phone use shortly before bed has been linked to a number of negative outcomes. The worst being tiredness the next day.
So it's time to turn off all of your gadgets every evening if you want to sleep better that evening.
3. 30 minutes before bed - eat a low GI meal
You've had the perfect sleep but woken up and ask yourself "Why am I still tired?!"
The reason is likely to be low blood sugar. Try having two tablespoons of organic peanut butter with celery or carrot sticks before bed.
Don't substitute with other peanut butter as some contain sugar which is going to cause a jump in your insulin and preventing you from dozing off properly.
4. 10 minutes before bed - the tranquilizer tea
We haven't found a plausible mechanism for this but it's worked extremely well for us. This is a tip from the late Seth Roberts Professor of Psychology at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
This knocks me out every time:
Grab 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of Go Healthy Manuka honey ( lower GI compared to normal honey so you don't get sugar spike) and stir into one cup of hot water.
If you just want a pre made mixture that is a one stop shop come in store and try our Artemis Deep Sleep tea.
If you use these four tools they can guarantee you a better start to your morning. If you want to see our tips on waking up and performing your best physiologically you can find them here.
Stay healthy Dunedin,
The antidote team