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Sleep is important for both your mental and physical health, and monitoring your sleep habits can be helpful. Follow these tips for better sleep habits from McFarland Clinic Neurologist and Sleep Medicine specialist Edward Clemmons, DO.
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Summer is a time of get-togethers with family and friends, increased exposure to sunlight, and typically less structure with a mix of activities and vacations. This tends to be a recipe for less sleep. Forty percent of residents in the Midwest report less sleep in the summer, higher than the national average of 36 percent. The lure of enjoying those extra hours of sunlight needs to be balanced with maintaining our best sleep habits.
An average night of sleep is seven to nine hours. You may find that there is a certain amount of sleep you need to feel refreshed. Despite the extra sunlight, it remains imperative that you allow for an adequate amount of sleep each night. Work schedules tend to drive wake times, but the individual defines their own bedtime. Make sure you are going to bed early enough to maintain adequate sleep times.
Sleep tends to be best consolidated at temperatures around 68 degrees. Use ceiling fans, spinning in the counterclockwise direction during summer, and set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature and reduce humidity.
"Ceiling fans can be adjusted to create different air movements beneficial to sleep,” says Dr. Clemmons. “A ceiling fan that spins in a counterclockwise direction creates a downdraft which creates a direct, cooling breeze. This aids in sleep in the summer months."
Additionally, you can use shades or blackout curtains to block out the early morning sunrise or late-night sunset. You can also use lighter linen or sleepwear materials to increase breathability.
Avoid caffeine after lunchtime (no later than 2 p.m.), and avoid alcohol at or near bedtime. While alcohol can make you fall asleep more quickly, it can also cause interrupted sleep and poorer sleep quality.
Summer should be an enjoyable time in the Midwest - finally breaking out of the prolonged doldrums of winter! Limit your exposure to blue light and screens at least 30 minutes before bed. Enjoy some meditation, reading, music, or another enjoyable activity away from the blue light of your device screens as a great way to "set the mood" for sleep.
Sleep better, feel better, be better!