Summer is a time when kids are out of routine and even adults feel something different in the air. Many towns and cities feature special summer entertainment in the evenings, on the weekends, and even on weekday afternoons. The days are long and it doesn’t get dark until late, so there are plenty of opportunities for people to make the most of it.
The problem with all the summer fun is that it can throw off our sleeping habits. Part of this is physiological, and part of it is due to external circumstances.
Physiologically, our bodies produce less melatonin in the summer than they do in the winter. This is because in the winter, nights are longer, while in the summer, they are shorter. Therefore, we may actually feel less tired at night during the summer, which can make it hard to get the requisite 7-9 hours of sleep for adults and varied amounts for children.
Externally, kids are out of school, and even though camp can provide some sort of framework, it’s simply different. In the summer, fun is the name of the game, and this influences both children and parents. Going to sleep late becomes the norm, but many still need to wake up early to go to work or camp.
5 Tips for Healthy Sleep in the Summer
Not sure if your family is getting enough sleep? Here are some telltale signs that your children (and you) are not getting enough sleep:
- Temper tantrums
- Defiant behavior
- Trouble concentrating, listening, problem-solving
- Increased appetite
So what can you do to combat the physiological and external challenges that summer poses to healthy sleep? Here are 5 tips to help you get the quality and quantity of sleep you want.
1. Set a sleep schedule
Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every night and day can help your body maintain its internal clock, which makes it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning. While this is a good tip to implement year-round, in the summer it becomes even more important due to our decreased levels of melatonin and all the fun things going on around us. Sure, it can be hard to head home when people are still out and about, but getting a good night’s sleep is worth it.
2. Soak in the morning sun
Spending time outside in the morning sun may be the antidote for adults and children who have a hard time falling asleep in the summer. Sunlight tells our bodies that it’s time to be awake, so if you go outside in the morning hours, you are telling your body that it’s wake-time. Once that cue is in place, your body will experience another cue, about 14 hours later, that it’s time to go to sleep. This is an especially good tactic for teens, who have delayed sleep phases and tend to stay up late. Getting morning sunlight can help their bodies shift into sleep more easily.
3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol late at night
Caffeine is a stimulant, so if you’re used to drinking your regular cup of joe to get you through the afternoon slump, consider replacing it with decaf. As for alcohol, it can make you fall asleep more quickly, but not necessarily. The risks of drinking alcohol late at night include making underlying conditions worse (like sleep apnea) and reducing REM sleep, a restorative sleep stage.
4. Limit screen time
Whether you are a bona fide adult or a 10-year old who thinks they know best, watching TV or scrolling through your phone before bedtime is a no-no. Blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, and during the months when melatonin production is at a low, it’s really not a good combination. Put your phone down 30-60 minutes before you go to sleep and let your body do what it’s supposed to do.
5. Manage your room temperature
People typically sleep better in cooler temperatures, which means that in the heat of the summer, it can be hard to get comfortable. If you use fans or air conditioning, those come with their own issues, like dryness and congestion. Therefore, achieving the “just right” temperature can be challenging, especially if you sleep with a partner. Work together to achieve the maximum level of comfort for each. If you like the fan but your partner doesn’t, make it only blow on you. If you get cold with the air conditioning but your partner is hot, use a heavier blanket. It may take some trial and error, but hitting the temperature sweet spot can increase the quality of your sleep.
Sleep Well, Live Well
One of the reasons sleep takes center stage in the summer is because its health benefits cannot be underestimated. Elevated mood, reduced stress, improved memory, heightened immune system, even a reduced risk of certain cancers are just some of them. If those benefits aren’t worth it, we don’t know what is. Being physically and emotionally healthy contributes to a high quality of life, which not only means you get to live your best life, but you get the added benefit of lower rates on life insurance. Having life insurance can also contribute to a higher quality of life, giving you peace of mind that your loved ones will be protected in case of tragedy.
Sproutt insurance advisors are available to help you determine what kind of life insurance is best for you. Simply answer a few questions and we will find the best-value plan for your lifestyle, needs, and budget.