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How Summer Affects Your Sleep: The Impact of Increased Daylight on Rest and Sleep Patterns

Summer brings longer days, warmer temperatures, and a bounty of outdoor activities. However, these seasonal changes can also impact sleep patterns in various ways. This blog delves into how the increased daylight during summer months influences sleep, explores the underlying mechanisms, and offers tips for maintaining good sleep hygiene.

The Impact of Increased Daylight

1. Changes in Light Exposure:

- Extended daylight hours: In the summer, the sun rises earlier and sets later, leading to prolonged exposure to natural light.

- Circadian rhythm disruption: The body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is primarily regulated by light (Duffy et al., 1996). Longer days can delay the release of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleepiness (Arendt, 1995).

2. Altered Sleep-Wake Cycles:

- Delayed sleep onset: More light in the evening can push back the time you feel sleepy, making it harder to fall asleep at your usual hour.

- Shorter sleep duration: If daylight causes you to wake earlier, you might get less sleep overall, impacting your rest and recovery (Burgess & Molina, 2014).

Biological and Environmental Mechanisms

1. Role of Melatonin:

- Delayed Melatonin Release: Increased evening light exposure inhibits melatonin production, delaying sleep onset (Gooley et al., 2011).

- Reduced Melatonin Levels: Prolonged daylight can reduce overall melatonin levels, affecting sleep quality and duration (Wehr, 1997).

2. Environmental Factors:

- Higher Temperatures: Summer heat can make it uncomfortable to sleep, raising the body's core temperature, which is not conducive for falling and staying asleep (Horne & Reyner, 1999).

- Increased Activity Levels: More daylight often means more time for social and physical activities, which can delay bedtime and affect sleep routines (Youngstedt et al., 2001).

Tips for Better Summer Sleep

1. Optimize Your Sleep Environment:

- Darken Your Room: Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out the extended daylight. This can help prompt melatonin production and cue your body that it's time to sleep.

- Control Temperature: Use fans or air conditioning to keep your bedroom cool. An optimal sleep temperature is around 60-67°F (16-19°C) (Hirshkowitz et al., 2015).

2. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule:

- Regular Bedtime and Wake Time: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Consistency helps regulate your circadian rhythm (Monk et al., 2003).

3. Limit Evening Light Exposure:

- Dim the Lights: Lower the lights in your home as it gets closer to bedtime. This can help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.

- Reduce Screen Time: Avoid electronics that emit blue light, such as smartphones and computers, at least an hour before bed. Blue light can inhibit melatonin production (Chang et al., 2015).

4. Adopt Relaxation Techniques:

- Pre-Sleep Routine: Engage in calming activities like reading a book, listening to soft music, or practicing relaxation exercises. A pre-bedtime routine can prepare your body for sleep (Harvard Health, 2021).

The increased daylight during summer can significantly impact your sleep by disrupting your circadian rhythms, delaying melatonin production, and potentially shortening your sleep duration. However, by adopting practical strategies such as optimizing your sleep environment, maintaining a consistent schedule, and managing light exposure, you can mitigate these effects and ensure restful nights. Prioritizing good sleep hygiene is essential to enjoy the vibrant summer days while maintaining your overall health and well-being.

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