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Sleepless in Summer: How to Beat the Heat and Get Your Rest

Struggle to sleep in the summer? As the days get longer and the temperatures rise, many people find that their sleep quality takes a hit during the summer months. The increased daylight can interfere with your circadian rhythm, and the heat can make it difficult to get comfortable at night. If you struggle to sleep in the summer, you’re not alone. 


Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the rest you need during the warmest months of the year.


What’s Causing Your Summer Insomnia? 


While there isn’t extensive research on summer insomnia, evidence suggests that changing seasons can impact your sleep quality. Several common phenomena during summer can contribute to poor sleep:


Daylight Savings Time: As the sun sets later, our body’s ability to produce melatonin is suppressed. Melatonin production is light-dependent, and the longer it stays light outside, the later melatonin is produced, causing you to fall asleep later and feel groggier in the morning. So, if you’re soaking up 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.


Warmer Weather: This summer has been a steamy one. The ideal temperature for sleep is around 65°F. In hot weather, you’re more likely to toss and turn, causing sleep disruptions. 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.


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 usual. 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


Cool Down Your Bedroom: 

The ideal temperature for your bedroom is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. A cool bedroom promotes melatonin production and helps you fall into a deep sleep faster. Keeping your room cool all night can be expensive, so here are some AC-free ways to cool down your bedroom:

  • Get good shades → Nearly any kind of shades or curtains will help reduce heat from the sun coming through your windows. 

  • Weatherproof your windows → A drafty window or gaps under a door will allow hot, humid air to seep into your room and let cooler air escape. Foam weatherstripping is a great and easy way to fix this problem. 

  • Get a good fan → While a fan won’t lower the temperature in your room, it will make you feel cooler by moving the air around and helping sweat 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 strengthen the circadian rhythm, which will help you sleep better at night. Plus, it’s a great way to soak up some much-needed Vitamin D, but don’t forget to properly protect against the sun!


Start Dimming the Lights in the Evening:


Around one to two hours before your bedtime, dim the lights and close 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. Too much screen time before bed will 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 reduce your body temperature. 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, some hormones can help you fall asleep more easily at night.


Additional Tips for Summer Sleep:


Stay Hydrated: While it's crucial to stay hydrated throughout the day, be mindful of your fluid intake in the evening to avoid disrupting your sleep with frequent trips to the bathroom. Try to front-load your water consumption earlier in the day and reduce it as bedtime approaches.


Mind Your Meals: Eating heavy or spicy foods close to bedtime can lead to indigestion and discomfort, making it harder to fall asleep. Instead, opt for light, easily digestible snacks if you're hungry before bed. Foods like yogurt, a banana, or a small handful of nuts can be good options.


Stay Cool: Taking a cool shower or bath before bed can help lower your body temperature, signaling to your body that it's time to wind down. Additionally, using a fan or air conditioner in your bedroom can help create a cool environment conducive to sleep.


Create a Relaxing Routine: Develop a bedtime routine that helps you relax and unwind. This could include activities like reading a book, practicing gentle yoga or stretching, listening to calming music, or engaging in relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation. Establishing a consistent routine can signal to your body that it's time to prepare for sleep.


Invest in Breathable Bedding: Look for sheets and bedding made from breathable materials like cotton or linen. These natural fibers help regulate your body temperature by wicking away moisture and allowing for better airflow, keeping you cool and comfortable throughout the night. Additionally, choosing bedding in light colors can help reflect heat, further enhancing your sleep environment.


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!

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