Grab your swim trunks and your “flippie floppies”! Summer is here! Okay, well maybe summer isn’t officially here yet but this weekend is Memorial Day weekend, which signifies the unofficial start of summer. If only mother earth knew! She might not be ready for summer, but I know I am! While summer is the best season, in my opinion any way, it also is the time of the year when Americans lose the most sleep. Even though we all love the warm weather, it plays a huge role in sleep deprivation. I decided to research the many reasons why Americans tend to lose sleep during the summer months and dug up some ways to combat those summer night sleeping woes.
Heat is one of the major reasons Americans lose sleep during the summer months. The temperature of your bedroom directly affects REM sleep. Why? “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature, the temperature your brain is trying to achieve, goes down,” says H. Craig Heller, PhD, professor of biology at Stanford University. “Think of it as the internal thermostat.” If it’s too hot, the body struggles to achieve this set point and causes you to wake up which in turn affects your quality of sleep. So how can you fix this problem? Simply turn up the AC right? Well if you don’t have central air or if you want to keep your electric bill down, like me, here are some tips to cool down those summer nights.
1. Keep your windows and shades completely closed during the day and then open your windows when you go to sleep at night. By doing this you will block most of the daytime sunlight from entering your room and in turn will lower the overall temperature of your bedroom.
2. You get a new wardrobe in the summer, why shouldn’t your bed? Just like you store away your winter coats and sweatshirts, put away your comforter and flannel sheets. Try using sheets made with natural fibers. Sheets made of natural materials are more breathable versus synthetic materials, which don’t allow ventilation. You can also try a light-colored sheet. Light shades reflect light rather than absorb it, keeping your bed nice and cool.
3. “Go to the mattresses!” Go to war against the summer heat by literally going to the mattresses. Just like the material of your sheets matter, so does the material used in your mattress. Go natural! Not only is this good for the environment but it also helps you catch some extra ZZZ’s. Mattresses made with natural materials keep you warm in winter and cool in the summer. Why? Because they are more breathable than man-made materials and help wick moisture away from the body. Looking for a natural, hand-made mattress? Shifman Mattress Company helps reduce the carbon footprint by only using materials that are natural, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, which is why the number one material used in their mattresses is cotton. They actually use up to 83 pounds of it in one mattress! With a cotton mattress in your arsenal you are ready to go to war again the heat of summer.
In addition to heat, sunlight has a direct effect on the body by signaling your brain to wake up. The light actually stops the body’s production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which responds to darkness. Long summer daylight hours can make sleeping difficult. In the summer the sun rises at around 5:30am! Doesn’t the sun know that summertime is for sleeping in? Unfortunately the sun doesn’t rise and set by the simple flick of a switch. So what can you do?
1. Use dark, heavy blinds and curtains. This will block most of the morning sunlight from seeping into your room and waking you up. It will also put you in control, not the sun, of deciding when you want to wake up.
2. Still too much light coming in? (What are you a vampire?!) Try using an eye mask. By using all three of these sun-blocking tools, you are ready to go to battle against the morning sun.
Summer is for fun in the sun and for rest and relaxation. By following these tips you are sure to kick off your summer right and keep you going strong all season long!