After a fun day in the sun, we all love to have an uninterrupted night of sleep. But, when the hot weather disrupts restful nights, we can feel groggy and sluggish the next day. Thankfully, these six study-proven strategies can help reverse summer sleep loss!
Eases Jangled Nerves: A Slow Evening Stroll
Adjusting to high temperatures and humidity takes a toll on the body. It not only slows us down, it makes the lymphatic system sluggish too, sabotaging its ability to flush anxiety-triggering toxins to the liver for disposal. If rattled nerves keep you from falling asleep, head out for a relaxed 15-minute evening stroll. Swiss researchers say rhythmically swinging your arms and legs kickstarts lymphatic flow to the liver, cleansing your system of sleep-robbing toxins, adding 40 minutes to your slumber and cutting your risk of early wake-ups in half!
Quiets ‘Monkey Mind’: Picturing Bliss
You’re 78 percent more likely to sleep soundly if you feel relaxed and content at bedtime since calm thoughts soothe your brain’s anxiety center (the amygdala), say University of Illinois researchers. If your mind is still bouncing around at top speed when you climb under the covers, try this: Visualize yourself lying in a soft, velvet-lined hammock, listening to waves lapping while the sun gently warms your skin. Australian researchers say this simple focusing trick quickly calms an overworked amygdala, helping you drift off 20 minutes faster and sleep up to 70 percent more soundly — often from the very first night.
Prevents Wake-Ups: Enjoying a Sweet Snack
Hot nights keep the brain’s production of the alertness hormone orexin high, raising the risk of restless sleep by 50 percent. The secret to sweet dreams: Enjoy 1⁄2 cup of ice cream topped with a sliced banana before bed. Canadian scientists say this refreshing treat will make you feel groggy in 20 minutes, plus prevent up to three middle-of-the-night awakenings. How? The ice cream’s brief blood-sugar spike and the nerves-oothing potassium and vitamin B-6 in bananas work together to tamp down orexin release.
Boosts Calm Brain Waves: Sunny Lunches
A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research suggests you’ll snooze 35 percent more soundly if you get 15 minutes of sun exposure between 10 am and 2 pm since even brief daytime doses of UV light double your brain’s production of sleep-deepening theta waves at night. More good news: Simply eating your lunch or sipping lemonade on the patio brings this sleep-boosting benefit!
Kick-Starts Melatonin: A Bedtime Alarm
Darkness tells the brain to release sleep-inducing melatonin — and so does going to sleep at the same time every night, says Meir Kryger, MD, author of The Mystery of Sleep (Buy on Amazon, $28). In fact, Cornell University researchers found that study subjects who chose and stuck with a consistent bedtime reported sleeping 67 percent more soundly, often in just 72 hours. Tip: Set an alarm or alert on your phone to remind you when to head to bed.
Deepens Sleep: Chilling Your Eyes
Can’t relax on warm nights? Stretch out in bed with an ice pack over your eyes, and you could feel sleepy in just 10 minutes, suggests research in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience. The study author explains that even a slight cooling of the brain tells your central nervous system it’s time to relax and drift off. Plus, cooling your eyebrows reduces electrical activity in the brain’s frontal lobe to stop mental chatter that disrupts sleep after fun-filled days.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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