It’s officially summertime! As we usher in more sunshine and longer days, our bodies take on an adjusted circadian rhythm (the natural, internal process that regulates our sleep/wake cycles). In the summer, it’s likely that you won’t feel tired until later in the day (particularly when compared to winter) and that as a result, you may find waking up in the morning a bit more difficult.
This is all well and good and is a natural part of the changing seasons. But couple that with an adjusted summer schedule, travel, and the plenty of fun distractions that the season brings, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some potential sleep loss!
Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to ensure that you’re getting all the sleep you need to make the most of the season.
Smooth out the transition into a summer sleep schedule with these tips:
Wear yourself out during the day.
There are two main benefits to summer activities: 1) they’re awesome and 2) they tire you out! Swimming in particular can be very effective, as it is an aerobic exercise that utilizes resistance and other factors to deliver a full body workout.
Prime the bedroom for sleep.
Think of your bedroom as a cave. Keep it dark, cool, and free from clutter. The ideal temperature should be 65 – 68 degrees. Make sure your bedding is comfortable and limit activities like watching TV.
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
We know it’s tempting to stay up later (and as a result, rise later) in the summer, especially once the weekend rolls around. But you should stick to the sleep schedule you had in the fall and winter and keep your bedtime/wake time consistent on both weekdays and weekends. We get it. This is really difficult. But it’s the #1 thing you can do for better sleep!
Sleep in the nude.
Sleeping in the nude (with a partner or otherwise) regulates body temperature, lowers blood pressure, and has unique benefits for both men and women. For those who sleep with a partner, it can also increase feelings of closeness.
Make the most of your mornings.
Take advantage of the sun rising earlier in the day to get out of bed and take a quick walk or sit outside with a cup of coffee. Exposing your body to sunlight first thing in the morning can go a long way in regulating circadian rhythm so you sleep better at night.
Limit light exposure at night.
Keep away from bright light and all screens (your TV, phone, laptop, tablet, etc.) an hour before bed. They can all interfere with your sleep schedule by tricking your brain into thinking it’s daytime.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day.
Drinking caffeine in the afternoon can interfere with falling asleep, and alcohol can impact and even limit the REM sleep stage (the deep, restorative phase of sleep).
Rinse before bed.
After a hot summer’s day, shower or take a bath to prepare yourself for bed, especially if you still have sunscreen, sweat, or bug spray lingering. Bathing is not only relaxing – a hot shower can physically signal your body that it’s time for bed.
Putting a little bit of thought into your summer sleep habits can provide HUGE benefits to your energy, mood, and overall well-being – which equals getting the very most out of what the season has to offer!
If you find that you still struggle with sleep issues despite following some or all of these tips, then it may be symptomatic of a larger problem like a sleep disorder. One of the most common is sleep apnea, which is characterized by a person repeatedly experiencing momentary pauses in breathing at night, which drastically reduces their sleep quality.
If you or someone in your household can never seem to get enough rest, don’t wait until the fall to do something about it! Dr. Jeff Rodgers is a dental sleep medicine practitioner in Atlanta with more than 20 years of experience helping people identify the cause of their fatigue and improving it with sleep apnea treatment. Schedule a consultation today to learn more.