Americans' average sleep duration is 10 minutes less per night during the summer months according to SleepScore Labs. This doesn't seem too significant, except that 35.2% of all adults in the U.S. report sleeping less than seven hours per night on average (Sleep Foundation) and half of Americans are sleepy during the day between 3-7 days per week.
Even though summer is a popular time for vacation and relaxation, many people slide into summer with a sleep deficit only to get even less rest amidst the abundance of sunshine. There are biological and social components that can be shifted to get more summer sleep making it possible to rest well, have a fun summer and coast into autumn feeling rejuvenated instead of exhausted.
7 Tips for Summer Sleep
- Get the right amount of sleep for your body. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. It takes each of us a different amount of time for optimal health and vitality. Vacation is a great time to uncover your magic number. Go to bed at the same time each night for at least one week and note how much you sleep without alarms. You might sleep more than normal at first and feel groggy, but it will eventually balance out.
- Cue your body for sleep. The sleep hormone, melatonin, is released with darkness. Create a strong sleep cue for your body by dimming lights and pulling down shades.
- Prioritize social gatherings. Pick and choose events that matter most. One night of lost sleep matters. The body attempts to recover sleep for several nights after one night of sleep loss according to sleep researcher Matthew Walker, PhD.
- Relax into a bedtime routine. Create a relaxing, enjoyable, device-free bedtime routine. Think of adding in things like journaling, reading, stretching, etc.... Just be sure to turn screens off at least one hour before your bedtime. The artificial light from screens can drastically impair our body's ability to drift into sleep.
- Stay cool. Warmer temperatures inhibit sleep. Keeping your bedroom temperature low (many recommend 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit) and wearing light or no clothing, eases the body into sleep mode. Also keep in mind that exercise can elevate body temperatures, so it may be best to get your workout in at least three hours before bed.
- Stay consistent. Experts all across the sleep medicine world recommend keeping sleep and wake time consistent so that Melatonin (the sleep hormone) can set its watch. It takes energy to change your internal clocks (every one of your 3-trillion cells has one).
- Monitor alcohol. Matthew Walker, PhD, says alcoholic beverages could rob you of REM sleep, keeping you in the lighter stages of sleep and you might tend to wake up in the middle of the night when the alcohol wears off. This is something to be mindful of.
Sleep is essential to every function in the human body. Regardless of the season, the brain needs to flush itself with cerebrospinal fluid, store and compare memories, problem solve and process emotions. Our bodies do important work at night! With mindfulness and consistency, you can have a wonderful summer while also honoring your health and ensuring you get all of the rest your body needs.