Some people find sleeping well during summer more of a challenge – but you can set up better conditions that may help, starting with one or two key changes at a time.
It’s no surprise that sleep can be harder to achieve during the warmer months, especially when research has found that the ideal sleeping temperature is around 17 – 19 degrees Celsius.1 Since not everyone is able to create a sleep space that provides these conditions, it’s a good idea to have some sleep knowledge in your pyjama pockets.
In this article
Davinia Lefroy is Senior Clinical Psychologist at Sleep Matters Perth and kindly reminds all her patients that healthy sleep isn’t perfect sleep. It’s OK to have the odd poor night.
"Sleep is not something we can force, and so moving towards healthy sleep is about setting up the right conditions for restful slumber. This includes a healthy sleep routine and a calm mind." says Davinia
Here are Davinia’s top tips for sleeping through hot summer nights. Consider selecting one or two key changes to make at a time to set up better conditions for sleep and remember – it’s not always going to be perfect.
1. Clean your sleep: Sleep hygiene
First things first. Being familiar with information about what promotes sleep is a good idea. For up-to-date and evidence-based information on healthy sleep practices, check out this article.
2. Rise and shine at the same time
Many people aim for a certain ‘bed time’ but are overly flexible when it comes to getting up. It can be more helpful, however, to stick as much as possible to a regular rise time and to go to bed only when feeling sleepy. Rising at the same or similar time throughout the week and weekend days, serves as an anchor for your body and brain and sets you up to have the best sleep-wake cycle possible.
You might find that your rise time becomes earlier in the summer as the sun rises earlier. Once this has begun, try to set a fairly regular time to wake and get up each morning and then allow yourself to go to bed for sleep when your body and brain begin to feel tired in the evening.
3. Create a cool, dark sleep space
Adjust your environment to account for the heat and light. It gets lighter earlier and possibly your room is warmer too. Think about window coverings to ensure darkness until your rise time as well as how to make the room a comfortable temperature.
Being too warm or too cold while you are trying to sleep may impact on your hydration and your general relaxation - both of which can be helpful to address so that your body can rest easy.
4. Exercise can help
Are you more or less likely to exercise in summer? Exercise is enormously helpful for increasing the likelihood of a refreshing sleep. It helps your body to feel sufficiently fatigued and relaxed. It is also a proven method of stress reduction which is also helpful in getting a good night’s sleep. Most experts suggest that any vigorous exercise should occur at least 3 hours before bedtime to ensure that you’re not going to bed with an elevated body temperature (which can interfere with sleep).
According to The Department of Health and Aged Care, adults should be active most days, preferably every day. Each week, adults should do either:2
- 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity – such as a brisk walk, golf, mowing the lawn , or swimming
- 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity – such as jogging, aerobics, fast cycling, soccer or netball an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities.
And also include muscle-strengthening activities as part of your daily physical activity on at least 2 days each week. This can be:
- squats or lunges
- lifting weights
- household tasks that involve lifting, carrying or digging.
5. Check your life balance
If the summer months mean more activity and busyness for you, you may need to consider introducing a deliberate wind-down routine in the evening before bed. Whilst more daylight can help you to get more done, this could also lead to stress and busyness that leaves you feeling more frazzled.
So, consider how much you are asking of yourself and ensure that you allow enough calmness, wind down time, and relaxation during the day but especially towards the end of your day.
6. Eating and drinking
Alcohol use (which for some might increase with the summer and festive season) has been shown to detrimentally impact our sleep if used close to sleep and in large quantities. Alcohol can interrupt our natural sleep cycle, dehydrate and even promote behaviours that also impact our mood and in turn our sleep. If consuming alcohol it is best to limit alcohol use to within the guidelines, try to avoid alcohol at least 4 hours before bedtime, and be mindful of how your use might impact your sleep.
It’s not just warmer weather and more sunlight that can alter your sleep, the festive season has been shown to have a large impact on sleep as well – and you may find this article helpful from Sleep Matters if the silly season has your sleep struggling.
Where to get help
If you have difficulty implementing the tips here, or you're concerned about your sleep, you’re not alone. Reach out to your GP to discuss how they can support you.
They may refer you to a psychologist, who can teach you some tools to improve your sleep.
If your GP suspects you have a sleep disorder, they may recommend a sleep study or refer you to a sleep specialist.
How can health insurance help?
If you’re having trouble sleeping, HBF can provide cover for a few services that may help:
- Psychology. HBF extras cover can give you benefits towards visits with a psychologist, who can teach you strategies for improving your sleep and managing mental health conditions that may affect your sleep.
- Sleep studies. HBF hospital cover can include sleep studies for the investigation of sleep patterns and problems.
If you’re an HBF member, you can check what you're covered for by logging on to myHBF or calling us on 133 423.
Mental health cover you can feel good about
If you’re having trouble sleeping you may benefit from speaking to someone. Whether you're looking for hospital, extras, or both, we've got cover that includes mental health services. Feel good about having peace of mind and prioritising your wellness.
Find out more
This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.