The days are longer, the beaches are buzzing and it’s socially acceptable to wear thongs again. And while the warmer months bring a heap of health benefits — such as improved mood, increased vitamin D and more opportunities to get outside to exercise — it can also wreak havoc on your sleep.
“Summer is absolutely the time of year when more people have trouble sleeping, and it has a lot to do with the outside temperature,” says sleep guru Dr Michael Breus.
“Your entire sleep system is based on a daily temperature rhythm where your body temperature climbs throughout the day to reach a peak at around 10.30pm. It then starts to fall, which is what causes the brain to feel sleepy.”
Although the ideal external room temperature for sleep sits between 18C and 22C, summer temps can rise much higher than that. This increased heat can interfere with your natural sleep rhythm and stop you from feeling the urge to nod off.
While controlling your bedroom temperature by opening windows, using a fan or switching on the airconditioning can be helpful, it’s only step one.
Here, we reveal the simple hacks that’ll help you beat the heat — and stay asleep — all night long …
1. SHRED SOME THREADS
Even if your room is sitting at a comfortable temperature, a hot bed will still disrupt your sleep and high-thread-count sheets are to blame.
“To make sheets with a higher thread count, companies have to weave the fabric tighter, which prevents air from circulating in the bed and makes you hotter,” Dr Breus explains.
His perfect summer bedding has a thread count of 350-450 and is made from cotton or bamboo, which are the most breathable fabrics.
2. ADD COOL ACCESSORIES
If you’re really struggling, you might want to invest in some special accessories.
“There’s a device called the Chili Pad [chilitechnology.com], which is kind of like a cold electric blanket, and I’ve been really impressed by it,” Dr Breus says.
It goes on top of the mattress and pumps water through microtubes in the pad to cool you down.
For a more low-tech alternative, fill your hot-water bottle with cold water and stick it in the freezer.
Just before you go to bed, place it between your sheets and it’ll act like a large ice-pack. Popping your pillow case in the freezer can also help, as can dampening your sheets.
3. SWAP BOOZE FOR BANANAS
That chilled glass of wine might feel refreshing in the moment, but alcohol can make your body feel warmer than it actually is. Swap your evening tipple for a cup of Dr Breus’ banana tea and you’ll be sound asleep moments after you hit the pillow.
“Bananas contain relaxing magnesium, but the peel contains more than the flesh,” Dr Breus says.
To make the brew, rinse a banana under water, cut off the ends and cut it in half. Drop in a pot of boiling water and leave to steep for four to five minutes, until the banana goes brown.
Drain the liquid, allow it to cool and drink an hour before bed. Dr Breus says he recommends the tea to all his clients — in fact, Princess Cruises, who use Dr Breus as a sleep consultant, now offer the drink to guests as a nightcap!
4. STICK YOUR FEET OUT
If you need to cool down quickly, Dr Breus suggests uncovering your feet.
“I actually researched why this is so effective and it’s because the soles of your feet have no hairs, which means they lose heat faster than most other parts of the body.”
The same can be said for the hands, so keep your arms out of the covers, too.
5. EAT A LIGHT DINNER
A barbecue banquet might sound like your idea of the quintessential way to spend a summer evening, but if you dig in too close to bedtime, you could be in for a rough night’s sleep.
Eating a heavy meal will force your digestive system to work harder, which means your body will burn up more energy and this can cause your core temperature to rise.
Stick to lighter meals like salads instead, or if you do have a heavier meal, be sure to leave at least an hour between dinner and bed.
6. SHUT OUT THE SUNSHINE
Although studies have shown exposure to natural light can help regulate your circadian rhythms, extended sunlight in summer (and during daylight savings) can throw out your bedtime routine.
Not only that, the brighter, earlier mornings can also wake you up earlier than necessary.
Dr Breus suggests using blackout curtains or an eye mask to create a more sleep friendly environment.
Keep the shades drawn during the day to limit the amount of heat that enters your bedroom and, hopefully, find it easier to sleep come bedtime.
7. BATHE BEFORE BED
Swap your morning rinse for a nightly wash to help regulate your sleeping patterns. According to the National Sleep Foundation, showering before bed — and leaving your skin slightly damp — can mimic the process of sweating and help keep you cool.
If you can’t stomach a cold shower, research has also found that a warm rinse or bath an hour before bed can trigger a drop in body temperature, which signals that it’s time to say goodnight.
THE TRUTH ABOUT PRINCE HARRY’S ‘SLEEP’ RING
Noticed Prince Harry sporting a distinctive ring during his recent tour of Oz? Turns out it’s actually a hi-tech sleep device called the Oura ring (from about $400, ouraring.com).
A step up from the bulky wrist trackers currently dominating the smart-tech market, this sleek, nondescript ring measures your body temperature, pulse and movement using infra-red technology.
It then transmits the data to your smartphone, which displays the info in a series of interactive graphs.
In addition to tracking the duration and quality of your sleep, the Oura ring also monitors your exercise activity, provides tips on how to optimise your bedtime routine and lets you know when it’s time to rest or get active.