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6 ‘Sleep Doctor’-Approved Tips for Getting the Best Rest During the Summer

Wake up refreshed and ready to enjoy those beautiful sunny days.

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While summer days are long, your sleep is likely short. A 2020 survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) revealed that 36 percent of US adults think they get less sleep in the summertime. “The lure of the outdoors and more daylight can make it tempting to delay bedtimes, but it’s important to get healthy sleep in every season,” Dr. Kannan Ramar, president of the AASM, said in a news release.

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Staying up later may be one cause your summer sleep issues. However, factors beyond your control — including Mother Nature — can make resting even more difficult. We spoke to clinical psychologist and leading sleep specialist, Michael Breus, PhD, to get pointers on resting easier this summer.

Why can’t I sleep well during summer?

The reasons you love summer – including warm weather and longer daylight – could be the very reasons you’re getting robbed of a great night’s sleep. According to the CDC, the sun’s light/dark cycle affects your body’s circadian clock, sleep, and alertness. Increases in light exposure during the day cause your body to be awake; by contrast, darkness signals that it’s time to fall asleep. 

Research published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology indicates the additional role that temperature plays during sleep. The authors found a greater chance of sleep disturbances in humid spaces than in cold ones. Clothing and bedding help regulate our body’s temperature when it’s chilly and we’re in bed; but humidity can trigger hot flashes and night sweats — creating an uncomfortable environment in which to fall and stay asleep.

How can I get better sleep in summer?

Dr. Breus (also known as “The Sleep Doctor”) shares six methods for combating summer sleep woes with First for Women — and they’re simpler than you think. With these tweaks, you’ll be on your way to catching Zzz’s with ease.

1. Close your windows and draw the blinds by 6 p.m.

These two actions kick start the “room cooling process.” Of course, your bedroom’s temperature will vary based on the the direction it faces. (If it’s west, it will get hotter later in the day). For optimal sleep time bedroom temperature, aim to commence cooling at 6 p.m.

2. If possible, install an HVAC zoning system.

An HVAC zoning system allows you to set unique temperatures in each room of your home. If installation isn’t possible, Dr. Breus suggests keeping your bedroom’s temperature between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit for great sleep.

3. Consider an air filter and fan for air movement.

Stale hot air makes you feel warmer, but any type of cooling breeze helps avoid that. Dr. Breus’ recommendation? Try using a box or oscillating fan in your bedroom at night.

4. Stay hydrated.  

A 2019 study found that sleep deprivation can also increase risk of dehydration. Dr. Breus notes this is especially true for people who snore or have obstructive sleep apnea.

That’s because a hormone called vasopressin regulates bodily fluid and is produced in large amounts during later sleep cycles. Cutting sleep short causes a lack of vasopressin — making dehydration more likely when it’s hot and you’re sweating a lot. 

Be sure to drink water consistently throughout the day. Just keep in mind that drinking too much of your daily water intake in the evening could cause frequent bathroom trips during the night.

5. Eat a light dinner.

When your body is busy digesting a large meal, falling asleep can take longer — and you’re more likely to sleep restlessly. So, enjoying a light dinner will make it easier for your body to transition into sleep later on.

We hope Dr. Breus’ tips will help resolve your summer sleep problems! Finally, here’s a bonus hack to keep your body cool and make resting at night a breeze:

6. Use the frozen water bottle trick.

“If all else fails, freeze two water bottles during the day, take them and put them inside an athletic or tube sock, then place one on each outside hip [until you’ve cooled down],” Dr. Breus recommends. “It works like a charm.”

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