As the nights get longer, and summer now a distant and gloomy 250 days away, a piece of winter sun could be just what the doctor ordered. An increase of Vitamin D and flu avoidance are just some of the benefits holidaymakers can expect from a winter sun break, as Dr Kayat explains, “Winter days in the UK are invariably short, wet and cold. Online travel agent, Travel Republic, worked with TV Doctor, Sara Kayat, from This Morning and GPs Behind Closed Doors, to discover the benefits of sun exposure over the winter months.

There are a myriad of theories as to why this is a breeding ground for viruses, including that we spend more time indoors and in close contact with others, or that the cold weather constricts our blood vessels in our nose, limiting the flow of blood and the important white cell defenders within it. There is also the theory that the lack of vitamin D impacts the immune system. ”

“The dreaded flu virus often peaks in January and February, and whilst cold viruses can affect anyone at any time of year, the peak activity is during the winter and rainy months. It is also worth considering that ear infections are more common in the winter as is bronchitis, which is a viral infection that causes inflammation and mucus in the small airways. So, steering clear of packed, soggy commuter trains, the stale indoors, and the bitter winds, and swapping this for the sun, sea, and sands may very well be your answer to avoiding the days spent in bed, rubbing menthol on your chest and spraying decongestants.”

“Direct sunlight is also required by our bodies to make vitamin D which helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet to maintain healthy bones, teeth and muscles. In the UK we can only produce enough from late March to the end of September. Thereafter people are advised to turn to supplements and dietary sources, but with the opportunity of winter sun, those pill packs can stay at home.”

And it is not just the physical benefits that make a winter break beneficial. Flaunting your holiday photos to make your co-workers jealous may help boost your mood, but Dr Kayat explains further how winter breaks have additional mental health benefits, “It is estimated that two million people in the UK suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition resulting in low mood and depression, linked to the reduced exposure of sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days.”

“The main theory is that a lack of sunlight stops the brain's hypothalamus working properly, so travelling to sunnier climes may certainly help improve the symptoms of the winter blues. Furthermore, studies have shown that staying warm can also reduce your S.A.D symptoms, so it isn't only the UV rays that you may crave, but the warmth too.”

Naomi Wilkinson, Marketing Director for Travel Republic, says, “We know that holidays provide the much needed break and escapism from the daily grind, but this research has identified the additional health benefits of taking a break during the colder months.

Autumn and winter are normally times when Brits reach for their woolly clothes and boxes of tissues, but our work with Dr. Kayat has shown that a passport can be as effective as a prescription for beating the winter blues.”

At Travel Republic, customers can tailor a winter break to meet their needs. Whether it is a Middle Eastern escape in Abu Dhabi for £471pp, a destination that boasts temperatures of 25°C in November or a sun, sea and sand holiday in Mexico for £800pp that enjoys highs of 23°C in January.