Snap OUT of “hibernation mode” this fall and winter

Snap OUT of “hibernation mode” this fall and winter

How to BOOST energy, DECREASE fatigue, and THRIVE

Cooler temps, shorter days, less sunlight and visibility… as we near the end of fall, many of us start going into “hibernation mode.”

That means spending more time in bed in the mornings or on the couch in the evenings—and less time engaging in hobbies and outdoor activities.

Plus, many people allow themselves to indulge a bit more in “comfort foods” loaded with sugar and carbs. But these “hibernation hobbies” can completely bring you down—both mentally and physically.

The good news is, I have a simple plan to BOOST energy and DECREASE fatigue… helping you THRIVE during these cooler, darker days.

Too much of a good thing

As you know, I recommend getting seven to nine hours of quality shuteye each night. But did you know getting TOO MUCH sleep can ZAP your energy and motivation?

Harvard researchers discovered that any deviation from normal sleep patterns, such as hitting the snooze button and sleeping in longer during the fall and winter, can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm and INCREASE daytime fatigue.1

Oversleeping also puts you at risk for developing depression.2 In fact, it’s even a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). And it increases your risk
of developing heart disease.

That’s why many experts recommend sticking to your normal sleeping routine year-round—even on weekends and during the holidays. Because that extra 20 minutes in dreamland isn’t going to do anything but make you GROGGIER during the day.

If you have trouble getting UP and MOVING in the morning, there are a few things you can do…

Switch up the kind of alarm clock you use. You may think one with a loud, jarring sound is more effective, but when some people hear that sound, they immediately shut it off and slip back to sleep. If this sounds like you, try an alarm that delivers soothing sounds, music, or light.

Speaking of light, exposing yourself to bright light first thing in the morning is another great way to improve your wake-up routine. Of course, in the late fall and winter, it may be dark out when you first wake. So, opening the shades won’t cut it.

In this case, try programming a device to turn on a bedside light for you each morning. Just know that artificial light isn’t as beneficial as real sunlight—so once the sun is up, make sure all the shades in your home are up too. Maybe even head outside for a few minutes to walk the dog or grab the paper, while soaking in some natural sunlight.

After all, morning sun exposure not only helps INCREASE daytime energy, it also BOOSTS your immunity and IMPROVES brain function.3

I also recommend avoiding alcohol or sugary snacks before bedtime, as they tend to make you feel more sluggish in the morning. (More on this in just a moment.)

Now that you’re awake and moving, let’s talk about how to fill your day…

Baby, it’s cold outside

It’s natural to want to stay indoors more between November and February. After all, for many people—especially if you’re a New Yorker like me—it’s often cold, wet, and gloomy.

But research shows we need to resist the temptation to stay cozied up inside. That’s because, in addition to helping you wake up, spending time outside helps BOOST your daytime energy.

In fact, according to a series of experiments conducted by researchers with the University of Rochester, spending time outside, especially in the fall and winter, increases your vitality (your feelings of physical and mental energy) by a staggering 40 percent!4

At the same time, spending time indoors has the opposite effect—it ZAPS your energy.

So, this fall and winter, if you find yourself lacking the energy or motivation to do just about anything—make it a point to head outside and get the sun on your face.

Better yet, make a quick outdoor jaunt or jog a regular part of your daily routine. I think you’ll notice a difference in your energy levels in just a few days.

And, as an added bonus, when you exercise outside in the cold weather, you burn MORE calories—which can help keep your waistline right where you want it.5 (Remember, brisk walks in the brisk weather counts as exercise.) This little habit also boosts brain and immune system function.

So, consider investing in some good, cold weather gear for your daily outdoor walks!

Deter the gingerbread men
and sugar plum fairies

Once the calendar turns to November, many people throw their healthy eating habits out the window and begin allowing themselves to indulge more in refined carbs, sweet treats, and alcohol.

But these foods and drinks steal your energy and set you up for long-term health problems.

Instead, make sure to double down on healthy dietary habits this holiday season. As always, that starts with following a Mediterranean-style diet filled with nutrient-dense, whole foods—including grass-fed and -finished meat, organic poultry, wild-caught fish and seafood, fresh produce, and healthy fats from nuts, avocados, eggs, and more.

Here are a few additional healthy tips:

  • Plan a hearty breakfast each morning, as it will help get you up and moving.
  • Eat your body weight in grams of protein on the days you’re not exercising. And on the days that you are (which, hopefully, is more often than not), eat 1.5 times your body weight. Unlike refined carbs, protein gives long-term energy that will sustain you through the dark winter days. Plus, the extra protein will help you resist the temptations all around you during this time of year.
  • Indulge in a different type of treat when you’re craving something sweet. Try sprinkling some berries and nuts on some plain Greek yogurt.

For more inspiration for how to prepare healthy, energizing foods this winter, check out my cooking show, Cooking with Dr. Fred, on Instagram (@DrFredNYC) and YouTube (“The Dr. Fred Show”). You can also order yourself a copy of my very own A-List Diet book ( to gain access to hundreds of healthy recipes that will help you fight off winter fatigue.

Live each day to the fullest

As we navigate the dark days of fall and winter, it’s crucial to recognize that our daily habits profoundly impact our energy levels.

So, make sure to keep to a regular sleep routine, spend some time outside every day, and stick with your healthy eating habits. Following this simple plan will not only help you survive the long days ahead, it will help you thrive and live each day to the fullest.