How to get the best sleep this summer

Summer social plans, vacations and getting outdoors more might sound fun — but they can be disruptive to sleep patterns, and advocates for healthy sleep want you to be your “best slept self.”

Longer hours of daylight tend to change daily habits related to mealtimes, bedtimes and winding down routines that can affect sleep quality.

“Studies have shown that people are more likely to get a little bit less sleep just because of that sunlight,” said Dr. Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi, a National Sleep Foundation board member and an associate professor of neurology at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. “Studies do show that if we don’t really prioritize our sleep, we can definitely have a lot less restful sleep and not enough sleep, to make sure that our daytime function is adequate and optimized.”

Oyegbile-Chidi said the connection between sleep and health is real in the short and long term.

Poor sleep can be disruptive to day-to-day activities.

“Concentration and our general well-being, being able to focus, not having that emotional lability, that we get sometimes irritable and cranky when we’ve not slept enough,” she said. “But also long-term, the consequences are quite severe, quite important. So, if you don’t sleep enough, your chances of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, depression, those increased significantly.”

People who already have issues related to concentration, mood and physical ailments can improve them with better sleep, she added.

“Getting excellent sleep can improve the illness, those disorders. So high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, mental illness, these are things that can improve if we make sure that we get our ‘best slept self,” Oyegbile-Chidi said.

Getting good sleep can also boost your immune system.

Dr. Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi is a National Sleep Foundation board member and an associate professor of neurology at U.C. Davis Children’s Hospital. (Courtesy U.C. Davis Health)

Tips from National Sleep Foundation to get better sleep include:

  • Take in lots of natural daytime light.
  • Regular exercise, 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
  • Stop screen time of all kinds at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Before bedtime, avoid heavy meals, nicotine and alcohol.
  • Bedroom should be dark and cool.
  • Reduce outdoor noise as much as possible.
  • A consistent bed time and evening routine and consistent waking routine.

Even consistent meal times can help foster better sleep because your body’s food clock and sleep clock are closely linked.

“Eating meals, you want to really make sure that you continue to eat meals similar to what you do during the winter or during the colder times,” Oyegbile-Chidi said.

Most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep nightly.

Daytime and evening tips to become your Best Slept Self can be found on the National Sleep Foundation’s website.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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