Summer is almost here, and it brings warm weather and longer days with it. But experts warn that some of those enjoyable parts of the summer months can also mess with your sleep cycle. Psychologist Michael Breus, known as the “sleep doctor,” explains that summer presents obstacles we don’t see during other seasons, including more light, more heat and more socializing.
Longer days mean being exposed to more light, which can affect our internal clock that makes us sleepy at night. And in the summer heat, it can be harder to sleep well if our bodies can’t cool down at night. People also tend to be more social during the summer months and stay up later.
Breus says these are the top sleep mistakes he sees people making that get in the way of quality sleep, especially during the summer.
- Nighttime skincare in bright bathroom lights - We’re already being exposed to more sunlight during the summer, which can lead to later bedtimes and less sleep and if you do your evening skincare routine in a bright light, you’re only adding to that light exposure, which can mess with your sleep. "That super bright environment is basically telling your brain it’s morning time and it’s not going to be producing that melatonin," Breus explains, adding that melatonin is the “key that starts the engine for sleep." So try doing your skincare earlier in the evening so you don’t get all that bright light right before bed.
- Exercising within two to three hours of bedtime - The sleep doctor says our body temperature tends to rise until about 10:30 at night, then it falls, signaling the brain to release melatonin. But if you’re exercising late in the day, your core body temperature can stay high for hours afterwards, keeping you from getting the melatonin release you need.
- Drinking alcohol right before you go to bed - Summer is the season we tend to stay up and out later and longer, often drinking and eating later than usual. Since alcohol can interfere with sleep, it’s best to avoid it for several hours before you hit the sack, even on your summer vacation.
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