Nearly one in two Americans are not getting enough quality sleep.* Trying to get a good night’s sleep in summertime can be a torturous endeavor, especially if you’re not fortunate enough to have air-conditioning. Tossing and turning as you try to find that perfect spot of coolness can interfere with the task at hand – sleeping.
But temperature isn’t the only thing keeping people awake in the summer. Longer daylight can really throw a wrench into a normal sleep routine as well. And the week around summer solstice (known as the longest day of the year) can be especially rough on your sleep.
Why light keeps us awake
As explained in a previous article, our internal clocks are set based on the rising and setting of the sun. This is known as our circadian rhythm, and it’s the basis for why we feel awake and tired at the same times every day. Our bodies produce melatonin as it grows dark outside, and our body slowly eases into sleepiness. But with light pouring through our bedroom windows until a later hour during summer solstice week, our bodies have a hard time determining when it’s truly bedtime.
According to SleepScore data, because of shorter nights during the week surrounding summer solstice, sleepers on average get 14 minutes less sleep per night than those during the long, dark nights in the week around winter solstice. That’s more than an hour and a half of lost sleep during Summer Solstice week!
Ways to keep it dark
Keeping your usual sleep routine and going to bed at the same time is always good for your sleep but that can be challenging when light is still peeking through your blinds. Certainly, items like blackout curtains on your windows can help keep your sleep space dark as the sun hangs on later outside, but a much more affordable eye mask can be beneficial as well. There are a variety on the market, but try to select one made of a material like silk that stays cooler and won’t be as uncomfortable on hot nights.
To get a baseline for how much light, and the temperature of your room throughout the night while also measuring your sleep quantity and quality, check out SleepScore Max. It will not only tell you about your sleep each night, it provides science-backed advice for improvement.
The bottom line is that even with the longer days around summer solstice, getting a good night’s sleep is possible by sticking to your usual nighttime routine including bedtime, keeping the room cool and making your sleep space as dark as possible. Happy solstice!
*Sleep in America poll 2015, National Sleep Foundation
“Darkness Matters- How Light Affects Sleep”.S+ ResMed.http://sleep.mysplus.com/library/category2/article1.html
“Effect of Light on Human Circadian Physiology”.US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2717723/