2022 – Less alcohol, more salads, maybe separate bedrooms: How to sleep better in spring and summer | Sleeps

TThe spring and summer months can make sleeping impossible, with everything from sweltering temperatures and raucous barbecues to roaring birdsong and early sunrise. Several studies have shown that our sleep deteriorates with the onset of spring. Stressing about it doesn’t help – although it’s understandable to be concerned about the climate crisis, which will cause temperatures to rise very dramatically and make it more difficult to sleep.

But try to relax on a sleepless night. Dr. says. Ali Hare, Consultant Sleep at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. “Accept that when there is a big heat wave you are going to have a few nights that are not quite as good, instead of really worrying about it and then trying to sleep. Once trying To sleep, you will not sleep. (If insomnia lasts “more than a few weeks, it is important for people to see their GP,” she adds.) Here, experts share their tips for how to get better during the summer months asleep.

Keep in mind your circadian rhythm

“We all love those long evenings, but late exposure to light can shift your circadian rhythm backwards, leading to what’s called a delayed sleep phase and causing you to fall asleep later than usual,” says Jay Lichzner, M.D., professor of neurology and sleep medicine. at Guy’s Hospital, London and author of The Night Brain. “It’s clear that a lot of people are leading normal lives and don’t want to sit behind closed curtains.” One way to compensate for this is by exposing yourself to bright lights in the morning “as soon as possible after waking up”, which should get you sleepy later in the day. Do not forget that bright screen light all year round also has a negative effect on the sleep-wake cycle.

Try to avoid excessive exposure to light. Photo: Marko Geber/Getty Images

proper light

Blinds or blackout curtains can be useful if your bedroom gets a lot of light in the early hours. An eye mask can also help if you don’t get too hot and sweaty. Her room doesn’t have to be completely black, says Hare. People can get a little obsessed with blocking out every spot of light. It’s just a matter of dimming the lights when you start to sleep so your melatonin levels are up [the hormone associated with sleep]And then significantly reduce the incidence of light in the morning. You are more likely to wake up when there is a lot of light coming in.”

Lower the temperature of your room

“The best ambient temperature in the bedroom is 16-18°C (61-64.5°F) for most of us,” says Leschziner. During a heat wave, he recommends placing a damp cloth over a fan “because the evaporation of water from the wet cloth cools the air the fan blows on you.”

A warm or lukewarm shower about an hour before bedtime can help you get rid of the heat more effectively. Photo: Ed Bock/Getty Images

Take a lukewarm bath

“We know that basal body temperature and sleep initiation are closely related,” says Lichzner. “In preparation for sleep, our basal body temperature tends to fall. Before we wake up, it rises, so there are probably some important regulatory mechanisms that link basal body temperature and our sleep together. It expands, allowing you to exhale heat more effectively after you get out of the bathroom” . Others advise against taking a cold bath before bed, although it is tempting in hot weather, as it may raise the body temperature. “There are some scientific reasons, cold showers constrict blood vessels, which makes you less able to lower your core body temperature. So in theory, yes,” says Leschner, but adds that he’s not aware of any good evidence.

to keep calm

“The brain doesn’t like it getting too hot,” says Jim Horn, professor emeritus of physiological psychology at Loughborough University and author of Insomnia. It’s one reason your cheeks turn red, especially when you’re tired, he says, because “your body gives off heat.” You can open a window, but this risks introducing noise and light (if the breeze disturbs the blinds). Horn recommends a fan, which comes with a white noise feature—something many people find soothing. “I think having a fan nearby with a gentle breeze above it is the best approach. It doesn’t matter if your body is too hot while you sleep, as long as your mind stays cool.”

Woman sleeping in bed with electric fan in front
The fan not only generates cool air, but also creates white noise that may help some sleep. Photo: invizbk/Getty Images/iStockphoto

cool tricks

Leszner heard them all. People try to put a pillow in the fridge or even the freezer before they go to bed. Wear clothing that removes sweat from your skin, as this increases the surface area for the sweat to evaporate. And things like natural materials for sheets. “It’s all anecdotal, he says, but ‘anything you can do to calm down a bit is likely to contribute to better sleep quality. “

stick to routine

In summer, our schedules can change, from gardening to dusk, eating late or going out with friends, and a bright evening lulls us into thinking it’s still daytime, which means we go to bed later and then. “Of all the things I recommend for getting good, stable sleep, regular sleep and time to wake up are probably the most important,” Haas says. Our habits change too – for example, we drink more alcohol. “Alcohol helps you sleep because it’s a sedative, but it disrupts REM sleep,” says Hare. “You are more likely to wake up in the early hours and find it difficult to get back to sleep.” We are also more likely to eat late, but Hare says we shouldn’t eat heavy meals in the two hours before bed until you take it “because your body can’t sleep and digest” [at the same time]. You often have GERD problems, indigestion, and bloating, which can disrupt sleep. “A light salad is good; roast is not perfect. And skip the iced coffee in the afternoon. There is a lot of genetic variance in how quickly we process caffeine, but for most people, it takes a long time, so I give the general rule of thumb to avoid caffeine after the lunch”.

Back view of women's open curtains
Regular sleep and waking time is probably the most important factor in getting a good night’s sleep. Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

Avoid naps

Shade naps are fun, but Hare says she doesn’t recommend napping, comparing it to a snack between meals. “You tend to have trouble sleeping, waking up a little early or not being able to sleep during that because you just reduced your appetite for it,” she says. The exception, she says, is “if you’ve had a very poor night’s sleep — especially if you have to drive somewhere or do something that requires important concentration — naps are important because they improve your alertness and ability to focus.” But in general, I wouldn’t recommend naps as an exercise. routine. There is evidence that it hinders your sleep rather than improving it.”

sleeping alone (maybe)

You may find that you sleep better without your partner overcoming their sleep issues or radiating warmth. It’s “difficult,” says Hare, noting that for many people, sleeping with a partner is an important part of their relationship; The people she meets in her clinic often want to come back to him. “If you find that both of you get too hot when you share a bed, then yes, but I generally don’t recommend sleeping separately,” she says. “It can be difficult to return to co-sleeping once you enter a separate sleep pattern.”

Don’t train too late

In the summer, you can try to schedule a run in the evening when the temperature drops a little, but this can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Vigorous exercise raises your body temperature, and the excitement and drive to try to break your best won’t help. Save it for the morning into the evening, Horn recommends “for a relaxing walk, with not too bright light.” However, he adds that – like most of this advice – this applies to those who are prone to interrupted sleep. “If you sleep well, do whatever you want.”