- By Rose Kennedy For the AJC
The rewards for getting proper shut eye (averaging at least 6 hours per night) range from boosted immunity and reduced stress to lower risk of obesity and the ever-important ability to function at work and while driving.
These benefits don't alter in the slightest when summer rolls around. But when Atlanta summer temps start ranging from "sweltering" to "Inferno conditions," the challenge of getting enough sleep becomes all the more difficult.
And tempting as it is to call out with "toss and turn syndrome," ATL employers do seem to expect you to join the workaday world rested and in a timely fashion, even though it's May through August. So it's better all around to work on combating warm-weather sleep thieves.
Begin with the all-weather ways to improve your sleep, from the surprisingly effective tactics like never hitting the snooze button to the zany but practical ways to combat snoring (yours or the weed eater sounds emerging from the other side of the bed.)
Once you've mastered basic good-sleep habits, try these "hot summer nights" add-ons for those seeking slumber in Atlanta this summer:
Seek the optimal sleep temp. Your thermostat can make or break your slumber, according to the National Sleep Foundation's website, Sleep.org. It suggested a bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep, which allows your body to decrease its own temperature so it can initiate sleep. "If your room is cool, rather than warm, it will be much easier to shut your eyes for the night," Sleep.org advised. "Thermostat settings far lower or higher than what's recommended could lead to restlessness and can also affect the quality of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep."
Think of your bedroom like a cave. "It should be quiet, cool and dark for the best chance at getting enough rest," according to Sleep.org.
Blackout before you sack out.June 21 is the longest day of summer in Atlanta with 14 hours, 24 minutes of daylight. Throughout the summer months, there's a good chance of sunlight seeping into your bedroom when you want to be asleep. "Since darkness is an important body cue for sleep, putting blackout curtains over your bedroom windows can be a great investment in your rest," Sleep.org noted.
Get the air flowing. An air conditioner is usually equal to even the hottest nighttime temperatures. But if you don't have AC or are economizing on utility bills or reluctant to inflict air conditioning woes on the environment, fans can go a long way to help make you more comfortable, according to Sleep.org. It advised overly-warm sleepers to create a path for air to flow by opening several windows and to place a bowl of ice cubes in front of the fan for a cooling boost.
Shower before bed. Rinsing off under the shower mimics your body's natural cooling process, also known as sweating. You'll still be moist after you towel off, noted Sleep.org, and the evaporation will create a chilling effect that sets the stage for sleep. Aim for a shower about an hour for bed. It need not be cold, either, as long as you allow enough time for your body to cool back down before you try to sleep. And don't add to the household heat and humidity by steaming up the bathroom!
Invest in breathable PJs and sheets. When the daytime temps demand lighter clothing, carry that idea into the evening hours. "Avoid pajamas in fabrics like silk that can trap heat and instead consider wicking materials," Sleep.org advised. "The right fabric can also help when it comes to your sheets. Look for natural materials like cotton, bamboo, or linen, and avoid high thread counts, which can trap body heat. A thread count between 200 and 400 may provide a happy medium of softness and breathability."
Simmer down on the late-night activities. Summer is party time, for sure, from block parties to those concerts under the stars. But try to keep the late nights to a minimum to improve hot weather sleep, Sleep.org recommended. "Try to stick to consistent bedtimes and wake times as often as possible, avoid excessive drinking, and make sure to allow time to wind down (ideally at least 30 to 60 minutes) before you turn in."