Do You Struggle to Sleep in the Summer?
Ever notice your sleep getting worse as summer dawns upon us? Turns out, this is a common occurrence for people around the world. Your sleep likely gets worse in the summer for several reasons, including the rising temperature and daylight savings time.
In this blog, we’ll break down the causes of your poor summer sleep and offer tips so you can great sleep all year long.
What’s causing your summer insomnia?
Unfortunately, there isn’t much research on summer insomnia. But there is some evidence that the changing seasons can impact your quality of sleep. Moreover, there are several common phenomena that could contribute to poor sleep quality in the summer.
Most of these phenomena have to do with the requirements necessary for proper melatonin production. Which, as we know, plays a vital role in your sleep cycle. Melatonin imbalances can lead to poor sleep and sleep deprivation.
Daylight savings time:
As the sun sets later in the evenings, our body’s ability to produce melatonin is suppressed. This is because melatonin production is light dependent, the longer it stays light outside, the later we make melatonin- causing you to fall asleep later and feel groggier in the morning.
So, if you’re soaking up in the sun late into the evening, or using artificial indoor lighting, instead of winding down in a dim room, you’ll likely have a more difficult time falling asleep at your usual bedtime.
The warmer weather:
This summer has been a steamy one. And this hotter weather can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. The ideal temperature to sleep is around 65°F, give or take a few degrees. In hot weather, you’re more likely to toss and turn, causing your sleep to be disrupted.
A warmer environment can also disrupt melatonin production. Melatonin causes a drop in your core body temperature that is necessary for sleep, and when you’re too hot at night, this process is interrupted. The lack of melatonin will make it harder to fall asleep and get into a deep sleep.
A vibrant summer social life:
Beyond the longer days and warmer weather, your summer lifestyle and vacation mindset may impact your sleep quality. For many of us, summertime is full of long evening parties and barbeques, keeping us drinking, eating, socializing, and going to bed much later than the rest of the year. All of these activities will make it harder for you to fall asleep by delaying your body’s internal clock (the circadian rhythm).
Drinking more alcohol in the summer is a major factor in disrupted sleep. Alcohol may make you sleepy at first, but after the effects wear off, it actually has the opposite effect, causing you to wake up. Alcohol will also impact your melatonin production, blood pressure, acid reflux, and your heart- all of which further impact your sleep.
How to cure your summer insomnia:
Reset your circadian rhythm:
To fix your summer insomnia, you may need a Circadian Rhythm reset. The circadian rhythm is responsible for waking you up in the morning and allowing you to fall asleep in the evening. Here are some simple ways to reset your circadian clock:
Limit your screen time in the evening
Exercise in the morning or afternoon
Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evenings
Develop a strong routine
Gradually shift your bedtime
Click here to learn more about how to reset your circadian rhythm.
Cool down your bedroom:
As mentioned earlier, the ideal temperature to keep your bedroom is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. A cool bedroom will help to promote melatonin production and help you fall into a deep sleep faster.
Unfortunately, keeping your room that cool all night can be very expensive. So, here are some AC-free ways to cool down your bedroom at night:
Get good shades → Nearly any kind of shades or curtains will help to reduce heat from the sun coming in through your windows.
Weatherproof your windows → A drafty window or gaps under a door will allow the hot, humid air to seep into your room and allow cooler air to escape. Foam weatherstripping is a great and easy way to fix this problem.
Get a good fan → While a fan won’t actually lower the temperature in your room, it will make you feel cooler by moving the air around and helping sweat to evaporate more easily.
Soak in the sunshine in the morning:
During the mornings and early afternoons, try to get as much sunlight as possible. Open your windows and go outside as much as possible. Getting sufficient sunlight during the day will help cue your body to stay awake and strengthens the circadian rhythm, which will help you to sleep better at night.
Start dimming the lights in the evening:
Around one to two hours before your bedtime, try dimming the lights and closing the curtains around your house. Losing the light will help trigger your body’s natural production of melatonin.
Don’t forget that dimming the lights also includes shutting off your electronic devices. Our bodies aren’t the best at deciphering the difference between blue light from smartphones, TVs, and computers and sunlight. This means that the more time we spend staring at our screen, the less our circadian rhythm is able to sync up to the natural progression of day and night.
Staring into a bright screen before bed will trick your body into thinking it’s daytime and trigger alertness. Too much screentime before bed will also inhibit the production of melatonin.
Go all natural:
Reducing the amount of clothing you wear to bed and the number of blankets you use at night will help to reduce your body temperature. Further, make sure your blankets and sheets are made from natural fibers, as they will help you regulate your body temperature better than synthetic materials.
Our favorite all-natural sheets come from Happsy, which only uses certified organic cotton for its bedroom products.
Sleeping in the heat definitely has its challenges, but there are small changes you can make to promote a good night’s sleep. Having a healthy sleep routine already in place will further help you sleep like a baby all night long. Moreover, there are also some hormones that will help you to fall asleep easier at night.
For more information on improving your sleep throughout the year, click here to contact us or call 276-235-3205 to schedule your complimentary discovery call.
The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!