The days are long, the kids are home from school, and routines are thrown off. The summer months are a shift toward ease in so many ways, but a hindrance to one thing we desperately need: sleep. In the cool, dark days of winter, turning in comes naturally, but in the warm weather, we have to make an effort to power down the body and brain. Here, seven suggestions for a better night's rest right now.
1. Keep it quiet.
Consider some pre-bedtime yoga: The practice of pratyahara involves closing off the senses. Block out sound with earplugs or a sound machine, cover your eyes with an eye pillow, and on hot summer nights, try some calming, restorative poses: Lie supine on the floor with your legs up the wall for about 5-10 minutes, or sit on the floor, hug your knees into your chest and rest your forehead on your knees. Turning in and putting pressure on the "third eye" sends a message to the entire body that it's time to relax and unwind.
2. Unplug and log off.
Monitor your online time and turn off stimulating devices well before bed. Consider taking a summer vacation from addictive technology, especially social media.
3. Make it dark.
Consider purchasing blackout shades to block the summer sun. An eye mask can work as a great substitute.
Above: Photograph by Michael A. Muller from A Whiter Shade of Pale: Weaver Caitlin Emeritz at Home in Seattle.
4. Invest in a well-made bed.
An essential step in avoiding sleepless summer nights is to invest in a quality bed: a box spring or foundation, mattress, and bedding. Consider a mattress that uses fiber technologies to pull body heat away from the sleeping surface, resulting in a cool sleep on hot nights. When it comes to sheets and blankets, opt for natural, breathable materials such as 100 percent cotton and linen to keep cool and cozy.
5. The cooler the better.
The ideal temperature range for sleeping is 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Pay attention to where the heat might be sneaking into your rooms and use shades to filter sunlight during the day. On the hottest nights, do as your grandparents did and move your sleep area to the coolest area of the house, such as the porch. And if that's not an option, consider investing in a window AC unit for your bedroom.
Averse to air-conditioning? Try taking a cold shower before going to sleep and place a damp washcloth next to the bed. For more relief, make a rice sock: Fill a fresh sock with rice and tie it with a ribbon at the top. Place it in the freezer for a few hours and rest it around your neck or on your forehead as a cooling compress (and, alternatively, in the winter, the filled sock can be heated in the microwave).
Sleeping in a cooler temperature can boost your metabolic health—see the recent New York Times article Let's Cool It in the Bedroom.
Above: French lavender water is used by Paris designer Lucile Demory at a natural bug repellent. Photograph by Natalie Weiss for Remodelista from Style Counsel: Unfussy French Girl Style with Lucile Demory.
6. Don't let the bugs bite.
Nothing is worse than being kept awake by a pestering mosquito. Be vigilant about keeping the bugs out during the day, and make sure all open windows are well screened.
Above: Photograph by Michael A. Muller for Remodelista from Living in an Architectural Landmark, Seattle Edition.
7. Get up at roughly at the same time every day.
We are creatures of habit and our circadian clocks thrive on regularity. Being consistent about when you turn in and when you get up will help you sleep better. But there's no need to be too rigid—it is summer, after all.