Better Summer Sleep

5 July 2023

It’s summer and you are enjoying all the daylight that allows you to get in that extra round of golf, bask at the pool, or putter in the garden. You are also putting forth a little more energy keeping the lawn mowed or playing with the kids who are out of school. Then why are you having difficulty sleeping?

All of that daylight can also work against you. If you are usually an early to bed type, it can be very difficult to convince your body to go to sleep when there is so much light coming into the bedroom. Equally difficult is when the sun streams into your room so much earlier.

Your circadian rhythm is also affected. Your eyes see light and triggers your brain that you should be awake. This, in turn, stimulates the production of cortisol, which is a hormone that reduces lethargy and helps you be more active. Likewise, when your eyes register darkness, melatonin is released and you become relaxed and tired.

You may want to consider blackout curtains or at least keep the blinds tightly shut to block out as much light and keep the room cooler, to boot.

Speaking of heat, that can be one of the major factors of poor sleep in the summer. Your body temperature will continue to decrease during the night during the first two stages of sleep. Most people will experience a drop of about 2 degrees during the night and then as you rouse in the morning, it will increase again to 98.6 or thereabouts.

External temperatures can disrupt your natural regulation and if your room is too warm, you will have difficulty falling asleep. If you are too warm during the first two stages of non-REM sleep, the rest of the night will also be difficult to stay asleep. Then you awaken and you are far from rested, plus your body has not had the opportunity to fully regenerate cells, stimulate the immune system, and other processes that keep our bodies in good working order.

Everyone seems to have a preference for the ideal temperature at which to set the termostat. Experts suggest between 65 and 67 degrees, but find what works best for you. You need it cool enough to wring the humidity out of your home for your own comfort as well as for your furnishings.

  • Use ceiling fans or an oscillating fan to move the air over your sweaty body.
  • Choose night clothes for their breathability like cotton or night shirts that wick away moisture.
  • There are pillows, sheets, and mattresses that will provide some temperature regulation.
  • Keep some ice water on your bedside table for a refreshing drink through the night that will lower your core temperature.
  • Don’t exercise before bedtime. Moderate exercise during the day is good but just before it’s time to say good night will leave you stimulated instead of relaxed.
  • Although it sounds counterintuitive, a hot bath will not only relax your muscles but when you step out of the warm water, you will feel significantly cooler.
  • Another thing that may sound strange, but you might want to try is to freeze your pillowcase during the day and put it on the pillow before retiring.

These are some techniques you may find useful.

Sweet Dreams!

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