Not sleeping well in the summer? You're not alone!

Sleep research experts say it helps to think of your bedroom as a cave -- try to keep it as dark as possible and as cool as possible.

Fred Bodimer
July 23, 2019 - 7:25 am

iStock / Getty Images Plus

Categories: 

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — The CDC recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep a night, but one-third of Americans say they get far less -- especially during the summer.
 
Lots of reasons why we get less sleep during the summer. 

"It's harder because there's typically more going on in the summertime," said Dr. Thomas Siler, medical director of the Sleep Lab at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in St. Charles.  "The days are longer and it's light later, so people tend to do more in the evening than they might do during the wintertime.  Also the sun comes up earlier in the morning and if your bedroom doesn't have good black-out curtains, the sunlight in the morning tends to wake people up earlier leading to less sleep in the summer."
 
His tips for better summertime sleep?

"You will want to get light out the environment as much as possible," Dr. Siler tells KMOX.  "So you will want to make sure the light is not waking you up in the morning and the light is not making it difficult to get to sleep at night.  You'll also want to make sure that you reduce the artificial light you are dealing with.   These days artificial light at night tends to be from phones, tablets and laptops.  So you will want to try to keep those things out of the bedroom."

The other enemy of sleep during the summertime is the heat, says Dr. Siler.

"People don't sleep well in warm rooms," said Dr. Siler.  "Having an effective air conditioner will help -- and even if you want to keep your a/c turned up a bit in order to save on your power bills, having a fan in the bedroom to circulate the air helps prevent you from sweating and having the heat wake you up while you are sleeping at night."

Sleep research experts say it helps to think of your bedroom as a cave -- try to keep it as dark as possible and as cool as possible. 

Other sleep tips include keeping a consistent bedtime and avoiding food and alcohol before going to bed.

But what about sleep medications?

Sleep drugs aren't meant to be used long term, says Dr. Tara Narula, CBS News Medical Contributor.  They are typically designed to be used in conjunction with cognitive therapy for six to eight weeks. And beware of side effects.

"In April, the FDA put a box warning on certain drugs like Ambien and Lunesta because there are sleep-related behaviors that can happen like sleep walking, sleep driving, drowning, and there have been deaths associated," Dr. Narula said.

Melatonin is a supplement, not a drug regulated by the FDA.  Dr. Narula says it has shown effectiveness for those with jet lag and people who work overnight shifts.  According to Narula, it hasn't been studied in the long term, but in the short term it seems to be safe.  It can help you get to sleep about seven minutes earlier than you normally would.

© 2019 KMOX (Entercom). All rights reserved.