Sleep and summer can be either synonymous or antagonistic depending on how you look at it. Technically, vacation (which some of us consider summer to be!) helps us sleep more, right? Except for all that daylight making it hard to go to bed sometimes. Let’s dispel some common summer sleep myths to help your clients and yourself get more rest and relaxation this summer, plus better sleep!
Summer Sleep Myth #1 – We need less sleep in summer
While asleep, the human brain stores memories, compares experiences, regulates emotions, experiments with creativity, washes itself, and has a break from the constant stream of waking input. The body gets to rest and repair. All of these activities are important no matter what time of year it is.
Sleep Score Labs found that people sleep 10 minutes less in summer. This seems insignificant except Sleep Foundation states that 35.2% of all adults in the US are getting less than seven hours of sleep per night on average and half of Americans are sleepy during the day between three and seven days per week.
Many folks are heading in to summer with a deficit, so ten more minutes is a big deal. Help people see this illusion and then they can begin to make some positive steps forward.
Summer Sleep Myth #2 – Sleeping in makes up for a late night
Sleeping off lost sleep works to an extent… When a person stays up later than usual on a given night, the body gets a second wind and produces extra cortisol to keep itself going. This is great occasionally, but internal stress levels remain elevated for a couple days when the cortisol switch is turned up so if this mechanism is triggered too often it leads to chronic stress and dis-regulation.
Maintaining a consistent bedtime and rising time has a plethora of benefits for the human body and conserves energy. Encourage your clients to pay attention to how they feel for the few days following a late night, not just the day after sleeping in. The effects linger, which makes them deceiving.
Micheal Breus, Ph.D, sleep doctor, suggests getting up at the your regular time the day after a late night, to maintain a rhythm. A 20- minute nap can aid in getting through the next day and help get into bed on time the next night.
Consistency is king, with exercise, nutrition AND sleep.
Summer Sleep Myth #3 – We are meant to go to bed later in summer
Melatonin (a sleep hormone) is secreted later during the summer months and might warrant a slightly later bedtime, maybe 30 minutes or an hour
but there is another competing factor to the influence of summer circadian rhythm, which is chronotype.
Each of us is wired to be an early bird, night owl or somewhere in between. Living in synch with chronotype benefits mood, energy levels and physical health. Your clients can take a free quiz on the Sleep Doctor website to find out their chronotype and receive tips on how to stay aligned with it for optimum functioning.
Summer Sleep Myth #4 – Sleeping too much on vacation makes me groggy
Sleeping too much can seem negative because of the grogginess that comes from a couple days of catch up sleep. It is normal to feel hungover when getting extra sleep after a long period of low sleep. The body is re-balancing. Encourage clients to try sleeping as much as they want for at least a week and see if the volume balances out. It often will and if it does not, refer them to a sleep doctor to explore having a sleep study.
Summer vacation is the perfect time for a sleep reset because of the absence of alarm clocks. Check out the NFPT Sleep Coach Course to learn how to take your clients through a sleep reset and set them up for a healthy and happy fall season.