The Importance of Sleep Schedules During the Summer

Summer can be a great time. BBQs, family trips, and time off. If you are anything like me, summer is the best season of the year. Most report summer as a rejuvenating season.. with stress less. I tend to spend more time outside enjoying the water weather, stay up later with friends and family, and have a packed schedule of adventures.

So if summertime seems to bring joy and a refreshed mindset, what could go wrong? 

Changes in attitude and schedules can cause some unexpected and negative effects on your sleep schedule if you aren’t prepared. The summer months can be extremely tricky to get to bed on a consistent bedtime, which can easily mess up our circadian rhythm that our bodies are used to. 

Let’s face it, sleep may not be a priority for you at the beginning of summer. But by the time you are tossing and turning and struggling with sleep this summer, you may get frustrated and run down.

We are sharing our top and EASY tricks to get a great night’s sleep – while still enjoying summer to the fullest. 

1. Get as much morning light in your room as you can : 

Longer days ahead. Early sunrises and later sunsets allow you to pack a lot of activities into each day. Allowing the natural light into the room will allow your body to naturally wake up, which can be such a gentler version of the alarm clock we all love (and hate).

Parent trick: If you have kids at home, it can be easier to get them up by simply letting the sun naturally creep into their room. 

So before you go to bed, try to keep those blinds drawn away. You will thank me later. 

2. Try to go to bed with the sun ☀️ : 

If you are having trouble getting ”sleepy” before bed, it may be a sign that your internal clock needs a little re-set. The naturally dimming lights of the sun going down and get your mind right and naturally help your body produce the melatonin needed to get you to bed.

Don’t hate the messenger, but this means you should limit the amount of un-natural light before you are getting to bed. Turn off your phone, TV, work emails and just enjoy the warm summer time nights. According to Dr. Burschtin, “Nature will provide early sun in the morning to correct part of the sleep problem, but the nocturnal part is all about behavioral modification and avoiding light before bed.”

3. Get on a summer night schedule, and stick to it:

Every season comes with different schedules. With many enjoying vacation time or school out, schedules may be a little more open and less consistent than you are used to having. Changing habits and daytime schedules can naturally put our system out of whack. Even if your “new normal” is constantly changing, try to stick to a similar wake-up/ go to bed schedule.

Tip: If you have a smart device or watch, check to see if there is a bedtime reminder. Giving your body an alert to “wind-down” can help you stay on track.

4. Watch what you are putting into your body (especially at night): 

Regardless of the season…alcohol, late-night sugary snacks, and caffeine can derail a good night and can leave you up, jittery, and tossing and turning at night. Most people don’t seem to recognize the impact of their diet on their sleep but it can affect your sleep patterns, weight gain, and other medical conditions.

Of course, I want you to enjoy yummy treats this summer, but just double-check the clock. Better to consume food and drink a few hours before you plan to wind down for bed.

5. Stay cool during the night: 

Summer can get hot. Some places in the country can easily get over 100 during the day! Make sure to turn on a fan or better yet, crank up the AC during the night. Research suggests that people get the best sleep when the room is at a chilly 65-69 degrees F. 

Wear breathable fabrics. Cotton, silk, and other breathable fabrics can be a simple, yet game-changing, way to ensure a good night’s sleep. Nobody likes to wake up hot, it can make you irritable and exhausted in the morning.

6. Go have fun. Get outside and MOVE.

This is probably the best (and easiest) tip there is. Getting out and increasing your activity can be one of the best ways to naturally tire you out.

On the weekends I love planning hikes with the dog or going on bike rides with my friends. My steps and heart rate naturally are higher on days that I prioritize outside activities. Then by the time I get home and ready for bed, I am exhausted and have less trouble getting to bed. 

Tip for those still grinding 9-5: If you are like me, and are working during the weekdays…use the extra sunlight during the evening to get out and do an activity that will bring you joy. This will allow you to unwind from work and get your mind right. 

What does that look like for you? Walking the dog, gardening, pick-up basketball, playing with your kids outside at the park? Getting your heart rate up past resting, even for 30 min per day, can really help with your mental and physical health. So don’t just live for the weekend, get out and enjoy every day as best you can. 

 

According to Philip Gehrman, Ph.D., professor in Psychiatry and the Penn Sleep Center, said “People tend to feel better in summer months…More positive emotions are reported.” This season is known for “restorative shuteye.” So take these 6 simple yet effective tips to get a great night’s sleep this summer.

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