Summer Health and Wellness: Getting Enough Sleep

getting enough sleep

Today’s big idea is in an effort to help you achieve optimal summer health and wellness. And with all the extra sunlight and the heat that’s happening right now, it can be hard to sleep. I mean, of course, it can be hard getting enough sleep at any time in the year, but right now, those long days and short, hot nights are throwing a different kind of wrench in the quest for rest.

Part of that is because it means we’re often out later, which just throws our whole evening routine off. But part of it is physiological, because the blue light in sunshine is stimulating. AND our neurotransmitters, such as melatonin, which cues our sense of sleepiness, are released in accordance with the fading of the sun each day. Also, it’s hot, and generally your body temperature needs to drop a bit for you to really fall into a restful sleep. 

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So let’s talk about how to get the zzzzs you need even now

A very simple way to help insure that you feel tired at night is to start drawing the curtains in your house around 7 o’clock so that the light gets dimmer in your home environment, even though it may still feel like full-on daylight outside. Of course, you have to be home for this to work, and when it’s light til 9 it’s really fun and easy to stay out at a BBQ or at the park until well past this time. 

Another way to reduce your light exposure at night is to get some blackout curtains. They really make a difference, but they’re an investment and then you’ve got to install them… I have certainly draped blankets over curtain rods in various AirBnBs and at my inlaws, so that’s an option too. It may not look instagram worthy but it does give a cozy feel, and can keep out the heat of the sun’s rays in addition to the light. 

 Something else that works like blackout shades and is a fraction of the cost is a sleep mask

I am a HUGE fan of sleep masks. Like a bird with a sheet over its cage, just putting it on helps my mind and body settle down. My husband and I fight about my sleep mask some nights, especially when I want to read in bed but he’s tired and ready to go to sleep. If he wears while I’m still reading, then I can’t wear it while I’m sleeping. Maybe I’ll get him one for fathers day. Hmmm.

I love my sleep mask from Manta. Full disclosure–Manta was once, but is not currently, a sponsor of this show. They are not currently paying me to talk about their masks, and they sent me my mask for free, but then I genuinely fell in love with it. I am an affiliate of theirs, so if you run across a link to them on my website, I will get a small commission if you buy one of their epic sleep masks. OK, disclosure over. 

Another tactic for making sure that you are tired at the end of the day

And not stimulated by all the light–is getting up earlier. This is when the day is coolest and quietest and you can do the things that restore you, like meditating, or drinking your morning cup of whatever you drink outside and listening to the birds. Getting enough sleep and getting up earlier also naturally makes you more tired at night. This benefit is intensified if you can manage to get outside in the early morning, because the exposure to sunlight in the morning sets your internal clock for the rest of the day. And that means feeling good and sleep and ready to conk out at night. 

I know not everyone is a morning person

I never ever used to be, but my kids broke me, and now I can’t really sleep past 6:30–even now that they’ll happily snooze until 8. And I’ve found that the morning is my favorite time of day. You don’t have to get up at 5 to be a morning person. 6 or even 6:30 still gives you a good hour or hour and a half of quiet time. Don’t automatically write it off until you’ve tried it. 

And if you fall asleep fine but wake up hot

Make sure you’re sleeping in breathable fabrics. And by that, I mean sleepwear and sheets. Linen and cotton are your friends. No more heavy comforters or polyester jammies. Also, get a fan or run the AC. The white noise will also help soothe you to sleep. 

All this being said, you could just go with it, too. There’s a time and a place for everything, including being a little lax about sleep, and if there’s ever a time when that’s appropriate, it’s during these weeks leading up to and just after the summer solstice, aka the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. You’ll know you’ve gone too far and need to rein it back in if you can’t keep your eyes open in the afternoon without caffeine, sugar, or both. That’s where the level of your sleep deficit will make itself most apparent, so just keep on your afternoon energy level and adjust accordingly. 

Daily Tiny Assignment

Your tiny assignment is to choose one thing you’ll do to help yourself get more sleep. Will you draw the shades in your house? Dig out your sleep mask, or buy one if you don’t have one? Make this the year you actually hang blackout shades? Try waking up early? Or vow to get some morning sun? Start sleeping with fewer clothes, or switch out your bedding? Or will you just let yourself off the hook from worrying about getting to sleep at a decent hour, and simply vow to keep tabs on your afternoon energy levels so you can assess if you need to dial it back in? 

Come back tomorrow for the final day in this week of episodes devoted to all things summer, when I’m sharing the secret to having the best beach trip ever, every time. 

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