June has arrived, signaling the beginning of summer. No matter your age, it’s likely that this time of year is spent taking advantage of the longer days and, for many of us, enjoying being near water, a cold drink in hand, with friends and family. On the flip side, us Texans know all too well just how hot summers can get—some even refer to the summertime as Texas’ winter, as many people lounge around inside, avoiding the sweltering heat. Though, it’s a fact that anyone who experiences a summer will know all too well that sleep and the heat are not friends. Frienemies, maybe, but certainly not compatible.
If you’re one of the many people who struggles to maintain restful sleep during the hotter months of the year … then we recommend you continue to read on! As you’ll soon learn, with a few mindful changes, you can find yourself waking up with the energy you need to take on the season each and every day. Follow these tips to help ensure a good night’s sleep no matter what summer throws our way!
Lower your thermostat at night or keep on a fan: Air conditioning is the biggest offender of high electric bills, that’s a fact. Unfortunately, it’s also a fact that our bodies require cooler temperatures in order to sleep well. Finding balance during the summer months will help not only your wallet but your health. While it’s reasonable to place your thermostat higher during the day, it’s important to make sure it’s set at an optimal temperature while you’re sleeping. According to the Sleep Foundation, the optimal temperature is anywhere between 60-67 degrees. Don’t want to lower your thermostat below 65-67 degrees? Leave your bedroom door open and have a fan running. Keep in mind that a fan shouldn’t be running directly on you while you sleep, as the circulation from a fan can worsen congestion, dry out your sinuses, and even provoke allergies.
Take advantage of the cooler mornings to get outside and reset your circadian rhythms. Receiving sunshine earlier in the morning will alert your body that it’s time to wake up. This can help eliminate the urge to stay up late and will naturally signal your body that it’s close to bedtime at an appropriate hour.
Reduce light indoors: As daylight hangs around longer, bringing the sun into your home later in the evening, you need to consider darkening the inside environment of your home by about an hour before your desired sleep time. Blackout curtains are a good option if you’re willing to make the investment, but closing your blinds and limiting the number of artificial lights on inside will also make a huge difference.
Avoid screen time before bed: Much like you need to dim the lights in a room before bed, it’s important to avoid light exposure from electronic screens. Electronic devices emit blue light, which can trick your body into thinking it’s daytime. Switch them out for a relaxing wind-down ritual like reading a book while having a cup of decaffeinated tea.
Use breathable bedding: Just like pillows play an important part in the quality of your sleep, bedding plays a crucial role in helping your body cool down enough to sleep. During the summer, it can be particularly helpful to use a lighter blanket than during other times of the year. The type of material your sheets are made of can make a difference too. Look for sheets derived from natural fibers, made from lightweight cotton or bamboo, or those with moisture-wicking properties such as microfiber.
Keep a consistent bedtime routine: Although it can be tempting during the summer to change your routine for vacations or other activities during the week, sudden changes in your sleep schedule can disrupt your body’s internal clock. If you must change your sleeping patterns, gradual adjustments to your sleep and wake times are the way to go.
Hit the shower before bed: Rinsing off before bed is not only relaxing, but it also helps to remove sweat and sunscreen from the day, leaving your body feeling clean which helps your mental health. Make sure to keep it on the cooler side, since hot showers increase the body temperature and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine during certain parts of the day: The later in the afternoon, the more important it is to stay away from caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means its job is to disrupt sleep. By limiting consumption to the morning, you’re allowing your body sufficient time to metabolize it. Alcohol, on the other hand, initially makes you sleepy but reduces REM sleep due to the way the body metabolizes it. Limiting the amount of alcohol you’re consuming and drinking your final beer at least 3-4 hours before bedtime can help reduce interrupted sleep.
Keep food to a minimum before bed: Late-night feasting can be a fun way to socialize during the summer, but it can affect your quality of sleep. Eating too late can affect your body’s natural release of HGH and melatonin, important hormones for sleep.
Stay hydrated throughout the day: Hydration plays a key role in how you feel during the day and how well you sleep at night. Even mild dehydration can drastically disrupt your sleep, leaving your throat dry, your body parched, and increasing the severity of your snoring. Yet, drinking too much water in the evening can also be troublesome, as it can cause you to wake up repeatedly during the night to use the bathroom. Combat this problem by consuming water regularly throughout the day and slowing down your intake a couple of hours before bed.
Prioritizing your sleep can be difficult during the summer, but following these tips can make it an easier process. If you still find yourself having trouble falling or staying asleep, then it might be a bigger issue than the summer heat. Sleep conditions like insomnia and sleep apnea require diagnosis and treatment to alleviate fatigue and sleep loss. Contact Sleep Dallas today to learn more about the steps needed to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.