We’ve already had a few days when the heat this summer has been sweltering. Days and nights of extreme temperatures that have made it difficult for us to perform many of our daily tasks.
Naked or with clothes: how is it more advisable to sleep?
Sleeping well during these days is very difficult because the high temperatures are compounded by other factors such as copious meals, more noise from the outside, alteration of daily routines and greater luminosity. And there are several ways in which summer can ruin our sleep patterns.
Light affects our hormones
Hormones are, according to the National Sleep Foundation, one of the most common causes of insomnia. In particular, it talks about the melatonin production, the hormone that the body produces to make us sleepy when it gets dark and that, therefore, is regulated by sunlight, which our eyes perceive and which makes our brain stay awake.
When it gets dark, our melatonin level increases and we feel tired, signaling to the brain that it is time to sleep. In summer, when the days are longer, the sunlight stimulates us later and later and then this stimulation of natural sunlight is delayed and the body does not feel as much desire to go to sleep. As the day lengthens, our circadian rhythm (the natural sleep pattern) slows down.
How it harms the temperature in the dream
When we sleep, our body temperature drops. This is also linked to the circadian rhythm (which in addition to regulating sleep also regulates mood, appetite and other bodily functions). During the day, light stimulates the production of cortisol, a hormone that makes us alert and also maintains body temperature (about 37ºC).
The ideal temperature to enter the hypnotic phase and sleep well is between the 18ºC and 22ºC, with a humidity in the environment of between 50% and 70%.
Most of us experience a drop of about 16ºC while we sleep. Before we wake up, our temperature gradually returns to normal. But when ambient temperatures are extreme they interfere with the natural thermoregulation that occurs during sleep. If it is very hot, this increases the temperature of the body and affects our sleep.
The ten basic points to end insomnia
Regardless, we can take some precautions to stay cooler when it’s too hot to sleep. These are measures that we must adopt before going to bed and while we sleep:
- Follow a regular scheduleAlthough in summer, but especially during the holidays, it is difficult to maintain a routine, it is important to try to wake up and go to bed every day at about the same time.
- Maintain suitable environmental conditions: a warm temperature (about 25ºC), absence of noise and light, adequate mattress, etc. they will help us to sleep better. It is important to renew the air in the room by opening the windows for a while before going to sleep. We can use a fan or air conditioning if we have one.
- Avoid large dinners: a light dinner (cold soups, salads or vegetables and avoiding foods high in fat) will help us to fall asleep because the body raises the temperature during digestion. It will also help us to drink something light before going to bed, such as a little warm milk or yogurt, because dairy products contain tryptophan, which facilitates the induction of sleep. On the other hand, it is not recommended to go to sleep hungry because it acts as a stimulant.
- Use fresh bedding: Bedding and fabric type can play a big role in our sleep. Cotton or linen are the most suitable because they allow you to breathe better.
- Eat dinner soon: the sooner we eat, the sooner we will digest.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic and caffeinated beverages: both alcohol and caffeine increase the secretion of cortisol, the stress hormone that makes it difficult for us to fall asleep.
- Take a warm shower: lukewarm water a little before going to sleep will help us to lower our body temperature. If we do it with cold water, the cooling effect will not last as long because the shock of temperatures reactivates the body and energy expenditure and causes an increase in temperature.
- Avoid direct air: Most likely these days fans and air conditioning help us better cope with high temperatures. It is recommended that, when using these devices, the air does not come directly to us because it stresses the muscles, which contract with the sensation of cold.
- Reduce nap time: There is some consensus that short naps (20-30 minutes) are beneficial and do not negatively affect night’s sleep, according to a document of the Spanish Sleep Society (SES).
- Do not exercise vigorously before going to bed– Strenuous exercise at night increases body temperature and activates the body.
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