Have you ever wondered why you have a hard time sleeping during the long, hot summer months? Did you know that sunlight exposure and heat is directly related to how well you sleep? It’s called circadian rhythm. Exposure to sunlight decreases your melatonin levels which naturally produce in the evening to help make you sleepy before bed. With the longer days in the summer, your body is delayed in producing melatonin in the evenings which makes it harder to naturally fall asleep. Melatonin induces sleep and relaxation which actually decreases your body’s core temperature. Research suggests that 66-70 degrees is the ideal environmental temperature for your body to get the best rest. Your body sleeps more soundly when it is cooler. Heat directly impacts how well you sleep!
Here are some tips for staying cool on hot summer nights:
Don’t exercise too close to bedtime! Moderate exercise makes your body tired and actually helps you sleep better in the evening. However, exercising increases your body temperature making it difficult to fall asleep if you do it too close to bedtime.
Turn the AC on and turn it down! Research shows that people receive the best sleep when the room temperature is somewhere between 66- 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is especially true on hot summer nights when the house temperature in general is a bit higher. If turning the AC down low is not an option, try using a ceiling fan to help with air circulation. Also, use a dehumidifier if you live in a humid environment. Humid heat negatively affects sleep more than dry heat.
Choose cool bedding! Choose bedding that will keep you cool during the night. Avoid polyester or fleece and go for 100% cotton if you can. Cotton and wool are less likely to trap heat like polyester. Sometimes mattresses can trap heat, making you sweat. In this case, try using a wool mattress pad to help with temperature regulation. And of course… go for the lighter, thinner covers and comforters that are more breathable to avoid getting too hot!
Wear lightweight pajamas! Just like bedding, what you wear to bed affects how warm or cool you feel during the night which directly affects how well you sleep. By now we know that being too warm negatively impacts your sleep. 100% cotton or a cotton blend is the best choice for pajamas because it’s lightweight and breathable, keeping your body’s temperature cool and regulated during the night!
Take a hot bath! It may seem contradictory, but taking a hot bath before bed (not immediately) can help you sleep better. Your body’s temperature actually decreases after getting out of the bath because it is adapting to the cooler environment. A warm bath also relaxes your body and muscles making it easier to fall asleep.
Monitor your sunlight close to bedtime! Our internal clock also known as the circadian rhythm is greatly influenced by light exposure. Sunlight makes us more alert and suppresses the production of melatonin which makes us sleepy. Be mindful of this when bedtime nears!
Stay consistent with a bedtime! Waking up and going to bed around the same time everyday even during the summer helps to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Research shows that constant changes in sleep patterns- such as shift work- can increase the risk of a range of health issues such as cancer to mental health problems. All the more reason to prioritize a sleep routine and stick to it even if you don’t have to!
Follow these summer sleeping tips! Avoid fatigue and stress by getting better rest!