With our days filled with activities and fun, our nights need to be filled with good sleep to energize us for the next day. Dr. Lori Neeleman gave us a few tips to get better sleep this summer.
Sleeping in the summer heat.
1. We sleep better when we are a little on the cool side; fans, air conditioners of any kind, cooling pillows, minimal bed coverings and light pajamas are helpful. Rooms that are uncomfortably cold however can also be disruptive to sleep. Try different temperature settings usually between 65-69 degrees to see what is most comfortable.
Sleeping during the long days and short nights.
2. The longer days are often disruptive to sleep, in part because of the extended sunlight which can impact the 24-hour rhythm, pushing sleep times a little later. If you need to be up at roughly the same time all year but are finding that you aren't sleepy at your normal bedtime there are a couple of things to consider.
First, if you are staying out later and getting more light exposure, that will often delay the time at which you start to feel sleepy. It's usually better to go to bed when you are sleepy rather than try to go to bed when you aren't. Allowing for an hour of wind-down time is important for the majority of people to allow the brain and body get into a more relaxed state that is more conducive to sleep.
Second, many people report needing slightly less sleep in the summer (likely due to longer daylight exposure) than they do in the winter. Trying to get the same amount of sleep in the summer as your do in the winter may backfire, leading to frustration which interferes with sleep significantly. Try not to stress about the shortened sleep schedule and your sleep will be much better.
Third, shoot for a consistent wake time so that the 24 hour rhythm knows what is “expected”. If a person keeps a consistent wake time and allows for sufficient sleep (between 7 and 9 hours for most people), most people’s sleep rhythm will adjust to new schedule.
Maintain good Sleep Habits!
Good sleep habits play a role no matter what time of year it is. A few key things to remember are:
1. Turning off your screen (TV, computer, tablet, phone) a couple hours before bed
2. Avoid caffeine 8 hours before bed
3. Get out of bed if you aren't sleeping, reserving the bed for sleep and intimacy only.
4. Avoid alcohol, smoking and large meals close to bedtime
5. Keep a consistent wake time 7 days per week as much as possible
6. Allowing for about an hour of wind-down time before bed are sleep habits that are associated with better sleep.
As important as sleep is for optimal functioning, don't be overly concerned with a night here and there of poor sleep. Keep your days full of things that are important or meaningful to you, stay active, and follow good sleep habits, and sleep should take care of itself. If you have several nights of poor sleep, or you are sleepy during your waking hours, or if you are concerned about your sleep in any way, talk with your primary care provider or see a sleep specialist.