Sleep Health

Can’t Sleep? Here Are 7 Common Summer Culprits, Plus Their Fixes

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After a fun day in the sun, we all love to have an uninterrupted night of sleep. But when the hot weather disrupts restful nights, we can feel groggy and sluggish the next day. Thankfully, these six strategies may help reverse summer sleep loss.

Eases Jangled Nerves: A Slow Evening Stroll

Feeling nervous or unsettled may come from a place of stress, but not always: Summer heat can often cause sleep loss, too. Regardless of the cause, if rattled nerves keep you from falling asleep, head out for a relaxed 15-minute evening stroll about one to three hours before bedtime. Research shows that during a walk, rhythmically swinging your arms and legs gives you a way to release energy, focus your mind, relieve stress, and even aid in digestion.

Quiets ‘Monkey Mind’: Picturing Bliss

You’re more likely to sleep soundly if you feel relaxed and content at bedtime since calm thoughts soothe your brain’s anxiety center (the amygdala), say University of Illinois researchers. If your mind is still bouncing around at top speed when you climb under the covers, try this: Visualize yourself lying in a soft, velvet-lined hammock, listening to waves lapping while the sun gently warms your skin. This simple focusing trick quickly calms an overworked amygdala, helping you drift off faster and sleep more soundly — often from the very first night.

Prevents Wake-Ups: Enjoying a Sweet Snack

Hot nights keep the brain’s production of the alertness hormone orexin high, raising the risk of restless sleep by 50 percent. The secret to sweet dreams: Enjoy ½ cup of ice cream topped with a sliced banana before bed. NBC News says this refreshing treat will make you feel groggy in less than half an hour. How? The ice cream causes a brief blood-sugar spike.

Boosts Calm Brain Waves: Sunny Lunches

A study published in the Journal Sleep Health suggests you’ll snooze more soundly if you get 15 minutes of sun exposure during the day, since even brief daytime doses of UV light double your brain’s production of sleep-deepening theta waves at night. More good news: Simply eating your lunch or sipping lemonade on the patio brings this sleep-boosting benefit!

Kick-Starts Melatonin: A Bedtime Alarm

Darkness tells the brain to release sleep-inducing melatonin — and so does going to sleep at the same time every night, says Meir Kryger, MD, author of The Mystery of Sleep (Buy from Amazon, $14.99 on Kindle). Indeed, SleepFoundation.org notes that a bedtime routine helps reduce anxious thoughts and overthinking, and reduces your risk of insomnia. Tip: Set an alarm or alert on your phone to remind you when to head to bed.

Deepens Sleep: Chilling Your Eyes

Can’t relax on warm nights? Stretch out in bed with an ice pack over your eyes, and you could feel sleepy in just 10 minutes. According to research in Frontiers in Neuroscience, even a slight cooling of the brain tells your central nervous system it’s time to relax and drift off. Plus, cooling your eyebrows reduces electrical activity in the brain’s frontal lobe to stop mental chatter that disrupts sleep after fun-filled days.

Nixes Distracting Sounds: Play White Noise

Those summer cicadas, frogs, and crickets don’t know that they’re disrupting our precious slumber. The easy fix: Turn on noise, such as a fan, air conditioner, or a white noise machine. A study published in Sleep Medicine showed that white noise improved sleep length and quality for participants who had to sleep in a noisy environment. For a reliable machine we like, try the LectroFan EVO Non-Looping Sleep Sound Machine, which even plays ocean sounds (Buy from Amazon, $44.99).

This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.

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