It’s summertime, and the living is easy—but that doesn’t mean getting a good night’s sleep is guaranteed.
Beachy days, fruity drinks, epic sunsets: There are so many things to love about summer. Unfortunately, amazing sleep isn’t always one of them. Steamy temperatures and extra hours of daylight have a way of interfering with quality shut-eye. The fact that many of us maintain action-packed social schedules this time of year doesn’t help, either. So what to do?
Start by taking a look around your bedroom. “It goes a long way in determining the quality of your sleep,” says Dr. Rebecca Robbins, sleep researcher and co-author of Sleep for Success! Many factors go into creating an appropriately snooze-inducing environment—from your bedding to your curtains to the temperature in the room. Get these details right and you’ll sleep more soundly, tonight and year-round. Here are her top tips.
Invest in your bedding.
“I suggest going with the best you can afford,” Dr. Robbins says. “Why not invest in sleep?” (We didn’t pay her to say this, promise!) She suggests high-quality cotton bedding, which is ideal for summer because it’s lightweight and breathable.
Keep your room cool.
“Temperature is an important factor,” she notes. “There are individual differences, but about 65 degrees is what we recommend.” If you don’t have central AC, look for a window or portable unit with a digital temperature readout. It’s worth taking the time to find a model that’s as quiet as possible, because you’ll also want to...
...Enjoy the silence.
No surprise here: Noise is a major issue. Whether it’s your AC’s whirr and clatter, the late-night party in your neighbor’s backyard, or chirping birds in the A.M., any kind of racket can be seriously disruptive (not to mention frustrating). It’s tough to eliminate noise completely—there are just too many factors beyond your control. Instead, seek to cancel it out with another type of noise. “There are great smartphone apps that sound like a river or even a washing machine,” Dr. Robbins says. A few to consider: myNoise, White Noise, and SleepFan.
Block out light.
“When we’re talking about restorative slumber, summer light can be challenging.” Dr. Robbins says. “Our eyelids are quite thin, so it’s good to have as dark an environment as possible.” She recommends blackout shades (“You can buy great ones at Target”). If you prefer an eye mask, choose one that’s made from a breathable material like cotton—silk and cashmere are better saved for fall.
In a season rich with opportunities to stay up past your bedtime, maintaining a steady sleep schedule may not be at the top of your list. “Just do the best you can,” Dr. Robbins says. There are other ways you can build in consistency: “Get outside and get lots of natural light during the day. Our bodies need a dose of light to help us understand when it’s time to power down and unwind,” she notes. “Incorporating that throughout the day is actually part of a good sleep routine.”