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Striking the Right Balance for a Good Summer Night's Slumber

10/05/2013 16:48 BST | Updated 10/07/2013 10:12 BST

For many the summer is a time of reduced pressures and holidays, but a good night's sleep is not necessarily guaranteed despite your expectation to the contrary. The bedroom environment is crucial during summer months: the extra light and heat are enjoyable on the beach but actually make good quality sleep harder to achieve.

Good quality and restful sleep depends on what is known as 'good sleep architecture' which refers to a sleep comprised of all five stages of sleep: Light sleep, stages one and two; deep sleep, stages three and four and finally dream sleep or REM sleep which occurs in bursts in the last third of your night's sleep.

During dream sleep your body has a more difficult time regulating your body temperature and, as a result, we do not easily initiate this most important part of sleep if conditions are wrong. Leave the air conditioner off and you risk losing sleep because your room is too hot; turn it on and you may have the opposite problem but the same result, poor quality sleep.

Just as temperature is important, consider the other aspects of a good sleep environment. Anything that activates the brain is probably better left outside of the bedroom including radios, televisions, computers, tablets, and smartphones. For optimal sleep, think about your bedroom like a 19th Century oasis, with air conditioning, of course!

These gadgets not only rev up our brains but also emit light which even in small amounts can disrupt the natural production of melatonin. Melatonin, at least the natural type that is produced by our brains, metabolizes most efficiently in absolute dark. Even tiny amounts of ambient light shut down this natural sleep hormone and with it, your good quality sleep.

What about those summertime naps on the hammock? Taboo, I am afraid, if you are seeking the perfect night's rest. Daytime naps incorporate deep sleep (stages three and four) which is borrowed from the deep sleep to be expected the coming night. This is replaced at night with light sleep which is less refreshing and more easily interrupted. Avoid disrupting your sleep architecture to fortify the foundations of your summer nights.

For further suggestions try the One Week to Better Sleep program.