Most people love summer with warmer weather, vacations, beach trips and BBQs amongst favourite things people look forward to. But summer isn’t all sunshine and roses for everyone as summer insomnia keeps plenty of people from getting a good night’s rest. What is it about summer that keeps people awake and what can you do to get a better night’s sleep? Read on to find out.
The summer warmth and longer daylight hours we love during the day, gets uncomfortable at night if it follows us into our bedrooms. One of the triggers our bodies have to get sleepy is hormonal, in particular melatonin production. When the sun goes down and it gets darker around us, our melatonin level rises, which makes us feel tired and signals our brain that it is time to sleep.
The extra daylight hours in summer mean that it is much later in the day when our melatonin levels start to rise, we get tired later and our internal body clock, also known as circadian rhythm, is delayed. But the longer days aren’t the only thing that keeps us awake in the summer months, the heat plays it role too.
The quality of our sleep is related to our core body temperature. Before you can reach a state of deep sleep, your core body temperature needs to drop by two or three degrees. If your core temperature is too high, your body doesn’t reach the deep sleep stage or stays in a heightened state of awareness.
It is clear that a cool and dark room will improve your sleep, especially in summer. But what can you do against the naturally long days and if you can’t afford or want to blast the air-con all night? Well, black-out curtains will keep the sun from your bedroom and turning on fewer lights when the sun has finally gone down will increase darkness too.
To keep cool, try keeping the window open at night (preferably with a screen in it to keep out the mosquitos and other bugs). Fans can help to keep the air gently moving and even push hot air out the open window. Drinking a glass of chilled water before going to bed, will help you stay hydrated and lower your body temperature.
Other tricks to lower the temperature of the room or your body include taking a hot shower, it feel counterintuitive but a warm shower increases the blood flow to your skin and increases the heat loss from your body. Or take an ice pack (wrapped in a towel) or frozen water bottle to bed with you to have a cold source near you, or simply put a cold, moist towel on your forehead or body.
Getting rid of thick blankets is one of the more obvious options, and using lightweight and breathable bed linen won’t trap your body heat either. Cuddling is for cold winter nights, in summer keeping a part a little will help you to keep cooler. And if possible spread out in bed, like a starfish, it increases air circulation around your limbs and reduces sweating.
Hopefully these tips will help you to fall asleep easier and to reach the healthy amount of sleep every night, even when the warm summer nights try to interfere with your sleep patterns. For adults the recommended amount of sleep is 7 hours a night on average, as that is what researchers have found to be necessary for optimum cognitive performance and mental health.