Summer brings long, warm evenings and a hive of social activity. And while this is a time to enjoy - it is these types of lifestyle and environmental changes that can disrupt our sleep patterns and mood. To help provide some advice about better sleep this summer, we have joined forces with sleep expert Dr Karyn O'Keeffe and wellness blogger Libby Matthews.
"A lack of sleep can have a major impact on mood, concentration, memory and quality of life," says Dr O'Keeffe. "But changing one habit at a time can make a big difference in the long run."
Libby Matthews explains "Good sleep has a large role to play in empowering me to feel my very best, along with good nutrition and exercise."
Karyn O'Keeffe is a Research Fellow at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre at Massey University, Wellington, where she splits her time between research and teaching. She is a physiologist with considerable clinical experience in monitoring sleep and managing sleep disorders. Her current research interests include fatigue-related risk in healthcare professionals and improving sleep health in the general population. Read about her helpful summer sleep tips below:
It can sometimes be difficult to keep cool on those summer evenings. Keep your bed sheets and sleep clothes light. Open windows and doors to create airflow.
A dark, quiet room is crucial for good quality sleep and late sunsets and early sunrises can cut into precious sleep time. Install good quality curtains to block out as much light as you can. Consider using an eye mask if light is a problem in your bedroom.
During holidays and long summer days, it's easy to extend the time we are awake at the expense of sleep. Remember that good sleep is vital if you are to make the most of the time you spend awake.
During holidays, our sleep schedules tend to be less strict. However, a relaxed schedule can affect our body clock and make it all the more difficult to get back into the groove of work. Try to stick to a regular sleep routine even on your days off. Make the most of the good summer weather. Sunlight is great for establishing a regular sleep routine.
Summertime tends to spark invitations to get-togethers where alcohol may be consumed. Remember to keep your alcohol intake to moderate levels and avoid alcohol in the 2-3 hours before bed. While alcohol gets us off to sleep easily, it reduces the quality of our sleep and therefore our functioning the following day.
Co-founder of health and wellness blog Julia & Libby, Libby Matthews is a qualified naturopath and nutritionist with a passion for all things that nourish the mind, body and soul. Together with her sister Julia, she runs workshops around New Zealand to educate woman on the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Discover her helpful and healthy tips below:
Downtime is absolutely essential to our health, especially during the holiday season when life can get more stressful. Getting enough sleep each night is important and taking time out for ourselves each day even if it's just 10-15 minutes should come second after sleep. This gives us a chance to reflect on the day and to give our mind and body a break. One of my favourite stress relief techniques is deep belly breathing; place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep, slow breath in through your nose and out through your mouth - repeat these ten times. This exercise helps to lower stress levels, promote relaxation and can even lower blood pressure.
Water is so beneficial for the human body and we should be aiming to drink between 2-2.5 litres of water per day. Our body is made up of around 60% water, so we need to be drinking enough of it each day to maintain our fluid balance and prevent dehydration. Drinking water helps to transport nutrients in the body, regulates body temperature, digests food and keeps us feeling full. If you are not a big fan of drinking water, try herbal teas or vegetable juices.
Research shows that people who eat breakfast will consume less sugar throughout the day. Breakfast helps to regulate your blood sugar levels which helps gives you more energy in the day. Start the day off with a balanced breakfast of complex carbohydrates and protein, these foods can help brain function by stimulating the brains neurotransmitters to contribute to a feeling of well-being. Omelettes with spinach and avocado, or oats with berries and greek yogurt are easy, healthy breakfast options.
Try to avoid heat build-up in your house during the day. Close the curtains to block out the sun and close the windows if the temperature outside is higher than it is inside.
Fans can help shift air through your bedroom. Place a portable fan near an open window and leave your bedroom door open so air can move through your house.
Choose cotton bedsheets and light, loose cotton pyjamas. These prevent you from getting too hot and can wick away sweat.
Take a cool shower before going to bed; this helps bring down your core body temperature, which aids the relaxation process.
Help cool your head, hands and feet at bed time. Place your pillow case in a zip lock bag and place it in the freezer for a few minutes before bed. Place your feet in cool water before bed and keep your hands and feet out of the bedsheets.