Sleep Better This Summer

So here’s the situation: You have a 7 a.m. meeting in the morning, and you’re the keynote speaker. Do a good job and you get a promotion. Sounds gravy right? Wrong: It's high summer and you can't fall sleep. No matter how hard you try, falling asleep during the year's mid months may seem like a task. Whether it's the heat, humidity, noise, light, or just general restless energy, the endeavor of summer slumber is more pain than pleasure. If this sounds familiar, you may be a summertime sleep sufferer. Fear not, because AM has come to the rescue with some tips to help you sleep better this summer.

Summer Sleep Obstacle No. 1: The Heat

July and August are hot, and depending on where you live it can be incredibly humid. Heat and humidity are the main obstacles to getting a good night’s sleep during the summer. Even just a slight rise in your bedroom temperature can result in complete and utter discomfort. Fortunately, there are some solutions (some are wacky, but they work).

Overcome the heat:
— Shell out the hundred or so bucks for a nice environmentally friendly air conditioning unit for your bedroom. Air conditioners do more than just cool the air, they also dehumidify. You can also consider a dehumidifier
— Build a traditional New England sleeping porch: A fully windowed room (but with screens during the summer) built to let the breeze blow through your sleeping quarters

— Keep your windows and shades completely closed during the day, and open as many as you can at night. Have fans positioned to generate a nice cross-breeze. For a sneaky little tip, fill a wide, shallow container full of ice cubes and let the container sit in front of the fan. Then just enjoy the cool air as it lasts. A cold, wet sheet between you and a fan will also do the trick
— Take a cold (like shivering cold) shower, or soak your hands and feet in cold water before heading to bed. Don't dry off completely and hopefully you'll pass out by the time you dry in bed. Add some talcum powder to your skin if you rash easily
— Go Egyptian: Lightly dampen a thin sheet, face cloth or even a T-shirt with cool water and use it to cover you. Alternatively, try donning a pair of cotton socks soaked in cold water
— Go commando (no explanation needed here, just make sure you keep the blinds drawn — the neighbors don't need to see that)
— Keep blue ice or ice packs by your bed and use them to cool yourself down as needed
— Sleep in the basement
— Lastly, change your bedding materials to those that retain less heat such as buckwheat pillows or futons, or silk sheets.

Summer Sleep Obstacle No. 2: The Noise

Now that you've overcome the heat by opening the windows, you're suddenly ambushed by yet another obstacle: noise. It's those unemployed bastards across the street, up late and jamming on the front porch. Add to that a barking dog and some backyard kegger and you're in for a long night.

Overcome the noise:
— If you can, shut the windows
— If the sound persists, seek out the source and eliminate it (humanely and within the boundaries of local state and federal laws of course)
— Pick up a pair of ear plugs. If the cheap ones don't cut it, go custom
— Counter noise with noise. Set a television to sleep mode, turn the volume down enough to drown out outside noises and turn your back to the screen. Put on some low volume, soothing and unfamiliar music without lyrics. Lastly, a noise machine or even a running fan may also do the trick
— Finally, if all else fails, move to another room in the house as far away from the source of the noise as possible

Summer Sleep Obstacle No. 3: The Light

OK, so now you're lying in bed, covered in wet sheets, with the windows closed and a fan running yet somehow you're still awake. "What foul sorcery is this!?" you demand aloud to no one in particular. Well, it's only 9 p.m. and unfortunately still light outside. Tackling light is — hopefully — your final challenge.

Overcome the light:
—Keep the room dark. This means using dark, heavy blinds that will actually filter out any light. Eliminate all other sources of light as well, including LED lights from computers or other electronics by covering them with heavy paper or cloths. Ensuring that your bedroom walls and all associated surfaces are dark will also improve sleepiness
— Don't, however, dwell in darkness. Upon waking up, be sure to rifle open the windows since natural sunlight will help your body reach an alert state much more quickly;
— Try an eye or sleep mask. Just remember that you're not actually blind when you wake up in the morning
— Get on a schedule. This might not help you in your current moment of need, but getting a healthy sleep routine will probably do more than all our other summer sleep solutions combined.

Summertime Snoozes

There is much of summer to be happy about, but there are certainly enough sleep-time distractions to force even the strongest man to sing the blues. Keeping on top of heat, noise and light will go a long way to helping you sleep better this summer. But be warned that there are more dangers lurking (allergies and bugs, just to name a few). Fortunately, AM has or will tackle these and other seasonal threats along the way, so keep your eyes peeled and your mouse at the ready.

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