Why Do I Sleep Badly In The Summer? 7 Ways The Best Part Of The Year Is Messing With Your Sleep
With the sun shining, warm weather, and clear blue skies, it’s no surprise that summer makes many people feel more relaxed, calm, and happier. In fact, studies have shown that summer does tend to boost your mood - whether directly because of the good weather or indirectly as a result of being outside more. (Though, it's important to note that some people do experience reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, which can cause seasonal depression during the warmer months.)
However, as much as you may enjoy soaking up some Vitamin D while sitting poolside, you might be experiencing one not-so-fun change. If you sleep badly all summer, there's a reason why. Your body temperature, and the temperature of your bedroom, play a huge role in determining your quality of sleep; finding the right temperature is just as important as surrounding yourself with comfy pillows, or creating a relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom. With the hottest months of summer quickly approaching, it’s best to be in the know, and prepared for all the ways the rising temps can mess with your sleep. From how many hours you sleep, to how deep you actually sleep at night, here are seven ways that experts say the warm weather can negatively affect your sleep routine.
1. First, Your Room Is Probably Too Hot
"One of the reasons individuals may have problem falling asleep, is that it takes a while for the body to adapt to different temperatures. We would cope better with changing seasons, if the summers lasted much longer," Professor Paul Gringras, a professor of children's sleep medicine at Evelina London and a scientific advisor for mattress company Leesa, explains to Bustle. "Positioning your bed near the air source in the summer, will help cool your core body temperature down as well to fall asleep.”
John Shegerian, the founder of SOM Sleep, tells Bustle that a "bedroom that is too hot (or too cold) can interfere with quality sleep." So, what's the perfect temp to rest soundly — without waking up drenched in sweat? Shegerian says to try to keep your bedroom thermostat set between 60 and 67 degrees if you want to sleep better during the summer.
Further, Dr. Suzanne Stevens, neurologist specializing in sleep medicine at the University of Kansas Health System, says that in order to keep cool, "Ensure the ceiling fan is set for air to blow down towards you instead of air blowing upward — counterclockwise in summer, and clockwise in the winter."
2. You're Not Sleeping As Deeply
During the night, you enter different stages of sleep (aka, REM sleep). However, the warm weather can interrupt this. "Feeling hot and muggy prevents your body from going into deep sleep, cutting the benefits from hormones your body needs for quality rest," says Michael Trufant, a sleep apnea expert and business unit manager for the healthcare company Aeroflow. "This means you will slow down at work, not have any energy to practice any physical activities, and be in an overall bad mood for the entirety of the day."
3. Allergies Can Mess With Your Zzz's
Anyone with seasonal allergies knows that with the arrival of spring and summer months, you'll be sneezing up a storm. Which, in turn, can make it more difficult to sleep. "Seasonal allergies can be problematic as pollen arises from grasses and leaves," says Trufant. "Allergies make it difficult to breathe, leading most people to developing symptoms such as cough, itchy eyes, and more conditions that can greatly hinder your sleep."
Trufant explains that "If allergies are an issue, avoid opening the windows to keep pollen out of the bedroom, and wash your linens weekly," adding that investing in an air purifier, and showering before you hit the hay at night will help you sleep, too.
4. Later Sunsets Can Impact You At Bedtime
The extra hours of daylight during the summer may be a plus if you like spending time outside, but it can make it harder to snooze. "Light awakens your body, and delays the release of melatonin which can become very distracting in the mornings and evenings," explains Trufant.
Luckily, combatting the effects that too much sun has on your sleep schedule is simple. Shegerian says that, "Since your sleep cycle is impacted by light and dark cues, you can help your body prepare to fall asleep simply by closing the blinds." Consider investing in blackout curtains if you're having trouble sleeping during the summertime, and be sure to open the blinds first thing when you wake up to keep your body's natural clock in check.
5. Your Summer Vacay Plans Aren't Great For Sleep Hygiene
Summer is the optimal time to take a break from work and visit your favorite vacation spots, but traveling could throw a wrench into your healthy sleep routine. Shegerian explains that jet lag "is a temporary disruption to your normal sleep schedule that can occur whenever you travel between time zones." Though jet lag can last anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks, depending on the person, it can still be detrimental.
Even if you don't necessarily get jet-lagged on vacation, Trufant says, "Your body adapts to a sleeping pattern that it becomes accustomed to and comes to expect, so when you stay up later and try to sleep in, your system can get thrown out of whack." Simply put, he suggests the best thing to do is stay as close to your normal bedtime schedule as you can during and after your trip, and try to relax phone-free for a bit before you go to bed.
6. You're Eating Later
"When we eat, our body expends energy to convert that food into energy or storage, which in return increases our metabolic rate," Gringras says. "This increase in metabolic rate, will also increase our core body temperature and therefore, your body will be warmer and you may have a harder time falling asleep." Further, Dr. Stevens adds that while drinking a glass of rosé to make you sleepier may seem like a good idea, drinking alcohol can "disrupt the second half of the night." He suggests trying to refrain from eating meals at least a couple hours before you plan to go to bed. Of course, if you want a late night snack, go for it! Just be mindful that it may keep you awake.
7. Your Sheets Aren't Breathable
Everyone likes to be comfy, cozy, and bundled up during the winter (blanket fort, anyone?), but you should change your bed linens and comforters when the weather gets warmer. Gringras suggests switching to something geared towards making you comfortable in warm weather — such as a cooling pillow or light cotton sheets — to improve your quality of sleep in the summertime.
Don't let a lack of sleep keep you from enjoying wherever the summer months may take you. Warm weather and sunshine may impact your sleep schedule in different ways, but by making simple changes — like keeping your room cooler, or buying summer-specific products for your bedroom — you can avoid summertime fatigue.