Do you feel tired and less energetic during the hot summer months? There are multiple factors that may contribute to summer lethargy and decline in sleep quality is one of them. If you are tossing and turning, waking up in the middle of night, or having fragmented sleep, it can make you feel sleep the whole day and decrease your productivity. The reason people usually experience trouble in sleeping is due to rise in temperature and changes in sunset and sunrise that can affect sleep duration and quality. Since the days are longer, the melatonin production also gets affected which contributes in sleep problems during the season. The heat can also make it difficult for you to sleep if the room is not cool enough. (Also read: A blood test to detect drowsy drivers on the anvil)
“The problem during summer is due to the longer daylight hours, the time of melatonin secretion is shorter than in winter. As the sun rises, melatonin secretion stops so the body can prepare for the day. This is one reason why you might wake up earlier and sleep a little less in summer. The rise in temperature and changes in sunset and sunrise also affect sleep duration and quality. The longer hours of light may make it harder to get to bed earlier, and the heat may keep you up or have you tossing and turning in a pool of sweat. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that your thermostat read between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for ideal sleep,” says Dr Murarji Tanaji Ghadge- ENT & Sleep disorder specialist at Ruby Hall Clinic.
“The multidimensional impacts of sleep on human life make it one of the most important biological functions we worry about. Better sleep patterns are essential for a healthy body and mind. On the other hand, disturbed sleep can lead to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, daytime irritability, reduced work performance, and altered cognitive abilities. Most of us commonly experience seasonal variations in our sleep patterns. Research-based evidence also indicates that cases of insomnia rise in the summer,” says Dr. Meenakshi Jain, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.
Dr Jain suggests the following tips for better sleep in summer:
1. Make time to cool down
Wear breathable clothes like cotton to bed. Taking a shower before bedtime can help bring down the body’s temperature and also help in relaxing. It is also advisable to keep the bedroom’s nighttime temperature low while making sure it is well ventilated.
2. Dim your rooms in the evening hours
Decreased exposure to light in the evening hours can help prepare your body for sleep. Also ensure to turn off light-emitting electronic gadgets like TVs, computers, mobiles, etc. to avoid interference with melatonin production by the body.
3. Lifestyle choices
Avoid strenuous exercise, heavy meals, and alcohol-caffeinated drinks like cold drinks, coffee, etc. in the evening hours.
4. Bedtime schedule
Maintain a consistent sleep and waking schedule. Avoiding daytime naps can also help improve sleep quality at night.
5. Professional help
Disturbed sleep is often a part of untreated underlying illnesses like depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, etc. If not taken care of, they can give rise to or worsen the already existing insomnia. So if you are doing everything to improve sleep but still failing, don’t be too hard on yourself and take help from mental health professional.
Dr Ghadge suggests to keep the following points in mind before bedtime:
• Keep yourself well hydrated.
• Keep hot air out by closing windows. Close curtains/blinds during the day time as the temperature rises. Keep the humidity at or below 50 to 60%.
• Avoid strenuous exercises, heavy meals, and alcohol for at least 3-4 hours before bed.
• Use cooling sleep accessories like pillows, sheets, and pyjamas made with natural fibres like cotton, light wool, silk or bamboo fabric instead with synthetic materials like polyester.