It’s not just children who stay up past their bedtimes during the summer. We all know the temptation of staying up late on a weeknight to drink a six-pack with friends and watch fireflies in the backyard, or whatever you like to do on longer, warmer evenings. And it’s totally worth it, even though you’re going to be tired the next day.
Due to light, heat, noise, a summertime cold virus, or other disruptions to our regular routines, summer sleeping problems may afflict people who don’t have chronic year-round insomnia. So for those nights when you’re not purposefully staying up late, here are some suggestions for maximizing your sleep. They’re especially aimed at those of you who don’t have an air conditioner or keep it off overnight to cut back on your electricity costs. But hopefully there are a few pearls of wisdom for people who sleep in chilled air too.
Shift your sleep schedule forward. Those extra hours of daylight in summer can throw your body’s timing off and make it harder to get to sleep, especially if you live in northern latitudes. So if you’re dealing with insomnia, you might try going to bed a little bit later than usual (by 30 minutes or so) and then waking up later too.
Keep your blinds and windows closed during the day. Sealing off your room to sunlight will keep it cooler and make it easier to doze off and stay asleep at night. After sunset, you can open your windows to let a breeze – hopefully – waft in.
Take a cold shower right before bed. And don’t towel off completely. If you’re lucky, you can fall asleep before you dry off (and heat up). If you’re willing to invest about $20 in a new accessory, you might try sleeping with a Chillow (cooling pillow). Cotton sheets are also definitely a good idea when the weather is warm and muggy.
Turn up the white noise. For those nights when your neighbors are outside making noise and you’re not joining them, turn on a fan on a high enough setting to drown them out. (Air conditioners obviously do the trick too.) And don’t think that voices from your television will soothe you to sleep. Having TV on overnight is shown to have an adverse impact on sleep quality.
Sleep downstairs — and alone — if you can. Since heat rises, the lowest level of your home is bound to be the coolest. And while we’re not trying to put a wedge in anyone’s relationship, you might be more comfortable on the hottest summer nights if you sleep alone, not close to another source of body heat.
Don’t keep crazy hours when you’re on vacation. You might be not see the harm in staying up until two and getting up at eleven while you’re off of work, but it can throw your body’s internal clock out of whack and make it really hard to get to sleep when your vacation is over. So try to keep to your regular schedule, more or less. And remember that seven hours of sleep is actually a lot better for you than more than nine hours.
Do you have tips for falling asleep when the weather is hot and sticky?