It’s hard to deny that after months of colder weather, most of us relish at the idea of summer with those higher digits and that feeling of the sun thawing those more frigid bones. As much as heat can signal piña coladas and time by the pool, it can also come and disturb our sleep. You might find yourself tossing and turning for hours, or even waking up, from the suffocating heat that summer can bring along with it. Luckily there are ways to still catch some z’s in the summer breeze.
Heat can be your sleep’s worst nightmare. The ideal body temperature for your brain is close to 36oC, which is at the lower end of your normal body temperature range and can vary from 36.1 to 37.2 °C (depending on age, activity and the time of day). When you sleep, your body tries to regulate its own temperature. This is even tougher when the summer heat kicks in because your body now has a harder time to relinquish those higher temperatures. Therefore, your brain will have difficulty reaching its resting temperature and will send a signal to your body, waking you up, and keeping you from sleeping by tossing and turning. Of course, all this can lead to insomnia and a lack of proper sleep, which can in turn bring on anxiety and stress. So, what can you do to help stop all this and get you back to counting sheep?
1. It’s important to make sure that your room’s ambient temperature is maintained at 16-19C. This is ideal for sleep. With the help of air conditioning or fans, this can be achieved during those summer nights. Another trick would be to keep the bedsheets humid and damp to cool you off when you sleep.
2. Water is a great cooling agent. Taking a colder shower before bed will definitely make you feel refreshed and ready to face the summer nights. Refrain from any strenuous activities before bedtime to make sure you don’t overexert yourself and increase your body temperature.
3. Using what nature has to offer can save you from a sleepless night. Certain plants and herbs have been used in herbal medicine for years as calmative sleep aids. One of them, and probably the most known, is chamomile. It is most often used in teas, but it can also be used in the form of a concentrated dry extract in certain supplements. It has been known to bring on a sense of calmness and relaxation, both of which are needed before bed. Chamomile is often mixed with another sleep-promoting ingredient, namely lemon balm. Lemon balm belongs to the mint family and is often used in foods but also in herbal medicine. It is known for promoting relaxation and sound sleep.
Believe it or not, green tea can also help you find your Zen. Green tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which is naturally found in its leaves. What happens when your mind relaxes? When you relax, or meditate, the brain creates alpha brain waves, which are typical in a state of relaxation while awake or dreaming. This state of brain activity can help the transition to even lower frequency brain waves that occur during restful sleep.
It can be hard to incorporate all these elements into your routine separately, but luckily certain supplements are designed to include all these ingredients to give you the full relaxation. More Sleep is a perfect example of a supplement that contains sleep-promoting herbs to help you sleep during those hot summer nights.
Temperature can be often overlooked when we consider the comforts of sleep. It’s important to manage it by taking some exceptional steps you wouldn’t normally include in your bedtime routine to keep your sleeping environment cool and allow you to get that restful sleep, even in the summer heat.
By Jennifer Soueida, B.Sc.