Did you know that nearly a third of Americans suffer from sleep deprivation? Despite experts recommending that adults sleep at least 8 hours, many get 6 hours a night or less. Summer is a time of change, and while no one denies having the sun on the horizon is a good thing it could be negatively effecting your sleep. As the days become longer our bodies naturally reprogram our sleep cycles in an attempt to adjust to the change. Depending on your particular situation summer may have very little effect on your sleep, but for most of us there will be a need for adjustments. There are many different variables that go into the equation for a good night’s rest. Let’s take a closer look at the major ones.
As the temperatures increase outside they increase inside as well. Prior to the miracles of Central Air people would simply build houses with high ceilings. Since heat rises this was a great way to keep cool in the summer. Many of you reading this have a thermostat to set your preferred temperature and others will be relying on fans this summer to stay cool. Regardless of your method, be sure to properly cool your sleeping area. The warmer it is in your room, the harder it's going to be to get fully rested. We aren't saying you need to turn your bedroom into an Arctic lair, just make sure it's a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house.
There are some easy fixes to the temperature issue. Heavy curtains are an amazing heat barrier and have the added bonus of shielding you from outside noise. It's also important to put those heavy blankets back in the closet, winter is over. In the summer you're going to want to go with the lightest linens you feel comfortable with. If you have heavy curtains up, light linens, a fan or other cooling device running, and you still find yourself tossing and turning all night you may have to dig deeper into the problem. Oftentimes people don't put enough time and effort into researching their bedding before they purchase it. Something as simple as the materials your mattress is made of could cause you to have inadequate sleep for years. In that situation most people will try to blame the sheets, or the temperature of the room, or even the location of the home but the problem is actually the mattress.
Most of you wouldn't leave to go camping without having a tent, a lantern, and probably a camp-stove. Any seasoned outdoors veteran knows how important it is to be prepared for the elements. The average American spends 30% of their life sleeping - far less than on recreational activities. If you’re spending a third of your life sleeping you want to be doing it in the most effective way possible. There are many different situations where your mattress can be helpful or harmful. According to a study completed in 2009 changing up your bedding results in a decrease in back-pain and a noticeable abatement in daily stress. 30 women and 29 men were studied for 28 days in their own beds, then were given new bedding and studied for an additional 28 days. The results of this particular study are in many ways a milestone for people suffering from stress-related nervousness and excessive anxiety. If you happen to be suffering from any of these unfortunate ailments you should take a closer look at your bedding. Don’t be afraid to walk into any store selling mattresses and ask questions. Finding out what a mattress is made of, how long it’s guaranteed to last, and what sets it apart from the others specifically is going to get you the information you need to make a good decision. Remember, this is a decision that will effect a third of your life.
When the weather is nice people have a tendency to stay outdoors for longer periods, this is great if you're the one staying outdoors. If you happen to be the neighbor trying to get some sleep for the long workday that extra noise can result in a frustrating situation. In larger cities and more populated areas this can be a never-ending problem, but certainly ramps up seasonally. We mentioned the use of heavy curtains to help diminish outside sounds earlier.
Heavy curtains can be an effective solution depending on your circumstances. In some cases they may not be enough to block out those sleep robbing sounds. Many people turn to white noise machines in these situations. These are inexpensive and will generate a soothing background sound that generally results in masking the extra sound. Some people simply prefer the solace of silence, let's face it, this is a good night's rest we are talking about here. Don't think twice about putting in earplugs and wearing a light-blocking eye mask. That may sound like an extreme solution at first. Once you consider how devastating the effects of sleep deprivation can be on a person it doesn’t seem so extreme after all.
According to the National Sleep Foundation allergies are also a well-known contributor to sleep problems. Summer can be a brutal time of the year for people that suffer from ragweed or pollen related allergies. This can be especially difficult to deal with as each person has a different tolerance for specific allergens. The number one defense against allergens is a quality air purifier. There are also a number of over the counter medications that were recently approved by the FDA that can have a dramatic impact on allergic reactions. If keeping the windows in your bedroom closed is an option than definitely do so, be sure to shut them in the morning hours as that time of day has the highest concentration of pollen. Again, your mattress may also be a contributing factor here. Older mattresses can harbor a number of different allergens that can be nearly impossible to overcome.
We've touched on what we consider to be some of the most detrimental factors to getting a good night’s sleep in the summer, but there will always be seasonal hurdles to overcome. Our biggest goal is to us is raise awareness. Proper sleep is absolutely crucial to each and every one of us.
As always thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog post and feel free to leave your own comments regarding summer-time sleep recommendations.