The story appears on

Page B5

April 12, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Health and Environment

Stay awake in springtime

WINTER may be a distant memory but some still find it difficult to motivate themselves even though the weather is getting warmer. Zhang Qian examines spring fatigue.

While the whole world is waking up with spring's arrival, some people cannot help yawning and falling back to sleep.

This condition of low energy and fatigue is called chun kun (literally spring sleepiness) in traditional Chinese medicine. It's a common symptom in the spring when the body fails to adjust to the warmer weather.

It mostly affects elderly people, the "sub-healthy" and those who suffer from chronic ailments. And it also bothers many white-collar workers who spend a lot of time sitting in air-conditioned rooms, without much physical movement or fresh air.

Getting more sleep won't help. A healthy schedule, a good diet and physical exercise may be more helpful.

Lack of sufficient blood and energy in the brain and organs causes spring drowsiness, according to Zhang Zhenxian, chief physician of Yueyang Hospital.

Usually, less blood flows to the surface of the body as capillaries contract in the winter cold. Thus, more blood flows to the brain and organs and provides more nutrition and oxygen where they are needed.

In spring, however, the capillaries relax. More blood flows to the surface, while comparatively less goes to the organs and brain. In addition, accelerated metabolism in the season increases oxygen consumption, which also reduces the supply to brain.

If the body fails to adjust to seasonal changes, the organs and brain still consume as much oxygen and nutrition as in the winter. Then people feel sleepy.

Some people adapt to the changes in a short time, while others find it more difficult. The elderly and sub-healthy usually require more time and are more vulnerable to spring sleepiness.


Those with chronic cardio-cerebral-vascular problems have more serious and long-term sleepiness problems. Those who use their brain a lot are more likely to suffer sleepiness in spring.

White-collars are frequent sufferers as they need more oxygen in the brain, but sitting for hours usually leads to poor blood circulation and insufficient oxygen in the brain. And limited fresh air usually aggravates the problem.

A healthy waking and sleeping schedule is important to fight this kind of fatigue. Eight hours of quality sleep each night is enough for an adult, though not everyone needs that much. Prolonged sleep will only numb the cerebral cortex, causing more serious sleepiness, according to TCM.

Physical exercise is always good for the health. Jogging, swimming, ball games and even steam baths can help adjust metabolism and accelerate blood circulation. This sends more oxygen to the brain and relieves sleepiness. Be careful not to exhaust yourself.

Bland, protein-rich food such as fish, eggs, milk and beans help relieve fatigue. Fresh vegetables such as spinach, shepherd's purse, cleome (spider flower) and carrots can help accelerate metabolism and expel internal toxins.

Avoid greasy foods and alcohol as they aggravate sleepiness.

Certain medical scents such as mint or camphor can provide instant refreshment. Washing the face with cold water helps in the same way.

Sleepiness in the spring is natural and usually disappears, but if it persists get a check up. It could be a sign of a more serious ailment, such as high blood pressure or high blood sugar.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend