There’s a lot to love about summer - between the extended days, vacation time, long weekends, outdoor vacations… Need we say more? :)
Yet, sleep troubles can put a damper on your summer fun, leaving you feeling tired, irritable, and unable to enjoy the activities that make summer... well, summer! People most commonly report having more difficulty falling and staying asleep, due to the hot weather. This is because sleep is induced by a drop in our core body temperature. When we're unable to cool down, it becomes difficult to relax and drift off into a restful sleep. In addition, the longer days can disrupt our natural circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep at our usual bedtime.
Sleep troubles generally arise or worsen in summer due to the increased light exposure. Longer days mean more sunlight, which can make it difficult to create a dark and quiet sleeping environment. Exposure to light in the evening hours can also interfere with the body's production of melatonin, the body's sleep hormone, making it harder to fall asleep at night.
But no stress - there are simple ways you can offset the effects of summer weather on your sleep. Here are some tips to help you sleep better during the summer:
Try a warm shower.
At the end of the day when getting ready for bed, you’ll want to bring your body temperature down. While it may seem counterintuitive, taking a warm shower can actually help lower your body temperature - this is because the heat causes your blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood flow to the skin's surface. As a result, your body begins to release heat through the skin, which helps to cool you down. A warm shower can also help to relax your muscles and promote a sense of calmness, making it easier to fall asleep.
Cool down your environment.
This one can be challenging depending on where you live. The ideal temperature for sleep is between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius (60-67 F). In the absence of air conditioning, a bedroom fan can be very effective to bring some fresh in some cool air and lower the temperature in your room. You can also close the curtains during the day to prevent the sun from heating up your room.
Choose breathable bedding.
Breathable and lightweight materials will make a huge difference in helping you stay cool and comfortable throughout the night. You’ll want to opt for cotton or linen sheets, which are more breathable and cooler than synthetic fabrics. A thread count of 300-400 is typically a good choice for summer sheets. Additionally, lighter colors can help to reflect heat and keep your bed cooler, so consider opting for white, pastels, or other light colors. You’ll want to avoid heavy blankets and comforters until winter rolls around again.You can also try using a breathable mattress - a mattress made from latex or memory foam can help regulate your body temperature.
Limit caffeine and alcohol before bed.
Caffeine can be an effective tool for optimizing your energy levels during the day, but you’ll want to enjoy your last cup sometime between 2 and 4 pm. On average, the half-life of caffeine is about 5 hours. This means that after consuming a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage, it takes about 5 hours for your body to eliminate half of the caffeine from your system. Giving your body enough time to metabolize and eliminate will make it easier to fall asleep and enjoy the highest quality of sleep.
While alcohol can help relax and unwind after a long day, it can also significantly impact your sleep quality causing you to feel restless and fatigued the next day. Try and avoid drinking right before bedtime - giving your body a few hours to metabolize the alcohol can help prevent disruptions to your sleep cycle.
Dehydration can cause you to wake up frequently during the night, disrupting your sleep cycle, making you feel restless and fatigued the next day. To avoid these negative impacts of dehydration on your sleep, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. You’ll want to stop drinking liquids at least 1-2 hours before bedtime to avoid the need to urinate during the night. If you find that you often wake up during the night to use the bathroom, try cutting back on your fluid intake earlier in the evening, allow time for your body to process the liquid before you go to bed.
Use a sleep mask and earplugs.
If you live in an area with bright sunlight or noisy surroundings, use a sleep mask and earplugs to create a dark and quiet environment.