There’s a lot to love about summer: the sun is out, the birds are chirping and everyone you meet seems to be in a better mood. Plus, it’s margarita season — need we say more?
Then again, summer has some major drawbacks as well. Between our increasingly busy social calendars, the unrelenting heat and changes in our schedules, the warmer months have a way of wreaking havoc on our sleep schedules. And the health impacts of poor sleep can be serious. According to the Sleep Foundation, chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to a host of health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and mental health disorders.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tried-and-true tips for getting better sleep during the hotter months. From getting more sunlight in the morning to using a cooling weighted blanket on warm nights, here’s how you can get a good night’s rest all season long.
1. Take advantage of morning daylight
For night owls and people with circadian rhythm disorders, early summer sunrises can seem like a drag. But as it turns out, there is a bright side (pun not intended) to all that extra sunlight in the morning. According to the experts, exposing yourself to extra sunlight in the morning can help you sleep more soundly at night by increasing hormones that influence your sleep-wake cycle. Direct light is best, so try reading the morning paper on the patio or taking a brisk walk outside within an hour of waking up. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
2. Install blackout curtains
In a similar vein, installing blackout curtains can go a long way in helping you sleep better in the warmer months. Too much light in the evening hours can slow down the production of melatonin (the hormone that makes us feel sleepy). Blackout curtains, which are made of dense, tightly-woven fibers that block light, allow you to control how much light enters your bedroom in the evening so you can get a better night’s sleep. They also block sunlight and heat, keeping your bedroom cooler as the mercury starts to rise.
3. Try a cooling eye mask
Dislike the look of blackout curtains? Try a cooling eye mask instead. On top of blocking sunlight in the evening, cooling eye masks also deliver gentle pressure and instant cooling for ultimate relaxation. Plus, they’re great to have on hand for stubborn headaches and hot, summer hangovers. Simply pop it in the freezer for a bit, place it on your head and enjoy the soothing sensation all around your eyes. Pro tip: Once the coldness starts to fade, flip the eye mask over to extend the cooling sensation.
4. Keep your bedroom cooler
It’s a well-known fact that we tend to sleep more soundly in a cold room. But while some people can simply turn down their thermostat in the evening, others don’t have the luxury of a working air conditioning system. If you don’t have AC or want to save on your electric bill, try closing your blinds during the day to trap cool air inside your bedroom.
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Knowing how to use fans to your advantage is also key to keeping a bedroom cool without AC. For instance, you can use two fans to create a crosswind, which essentially circulates cold air into your bedroom and pushes hot air out.
5. Upgrade your bedding for the summer
Your heavy comforter and flannel sheets might have been perfect for winter, but it probably isn’t doing you any favors in 80- and 90-degree weather. Kiss your cold weather coverings goodbye (at least until September) and swap them out with lightweight bedding that will keep you cool at night. Linen, cotton and bamboo sheets — which are known for their breathability and moisture-wicking properties — are perfect for hot weather. Love the soothing quality of your heavier bedding? Consider sleeping with a cotton weighted blanket designed to calm your body while allowing for maximum breathability.
6. Keep stress levels in check
While many people believe that summer means stress-free days by the pool, the reality is that summer can be a hectic time for busy families. School is out, which means we need to keep the kids entertained while still holding down full-time jobs. And when we finally get to take a vacation, we often return to hundreds of emails in our inboxes.
Unfortunately, unchecked stress levels can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. To avoid sleepless nights, find ways to lower your stress — like practicing self-care or seeking professional help. Exercise is also conducive to sleep, so long as you don’t exercise too close to bedtime.
7. Unwind with a shower before bed
Sure, taking a shower in the morning might help you feel awake and energized, but there’s something to be said about taking night showers in the summer. For one thing, it gives you the chance to wash away the dirt, grime and sunscreen from your skin, which may help you feel more comfortable when you get into bed. Additionally, research has shown that taking a warm shower or bath before bed can improve sleep quality.
If the idea of taking a warm shower in the summer doesn’t sound appealing, you can also try taking a lukewarm or cold shower. Although there isn’t much research to support the benefits of a cold shower for sleep, some people swear that taking a cold shower before bed helps them get better shut-eye.
Sleep Soundly in the Summer
Good sleep is essential to our health and well-being. But in the summer, getting enough shut-eye can be a tall task. With these tips, you can catch some top-notch Zzzs no matter how hot and muggy it is outside.
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