Better Sleep in the Good Ole Summertime

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By Eugena Brooks

dog 1837445 1280I live in one of the five boroughs of New York City. Here we wait all winter long for the breaking of spring leading to the dog days of summer. It gives us the opportunity to break out shorts and sandals to head for the beaches and parks to enjoy the nice weather. However, no matter where you live — in the city, suburbs or the country — summer heat can be a drag when it comes to trying to get some much-needed comfortable sleep. For those of us suffering with sleep apnea, good sleep is key.

Your body temperature naturally drops to prepare for sleep. So, this is why sometimes (i.e. humid, scorching, arid climates) you awaken from slumber and quickly grab for a light cotton sheet or even an airy blanket in the long hot summer.

Getting to sleep and staying asleep are the keywords for summer. For the most part, we have the clothing thing figured out to appease both the sleep apnea and insomnia dragons! We wear light, roomy and comfortable clothing.

Don’t forget the age-old practice for keeping the Zzzzs going- Keep the humidity down with a simple fan. If it’s too dry in your region, put a pan of cool water in front of your fan!

Room temperature settings are the “most important spoke in the getting to sleep wheel.” Many experts say you should keep your thermostat between 60- and 67-degrees Fahrenheit to help facilitate this decrease. But Chris Winter, MD, president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia, says that 65 degrees is ideal.

“That doesn’t mean 66 or 67 is terrible, but a cooler environment usually lends itself to a better quality of sleep,” according to Dr. Winter.

However, in a sleep study by Valham F; Sahlin C; Stenlund H; Franklin KA. on ambient temperature and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): effects on sleep, sleep apnea, and morning alertness, it was found that even untreated patients with OSA sleep longer, have better sleep efficiency, and are more alert in the morning after a night’s sleep at 16°C (60.8 degrees F.). This is compared to room temperature of 24°C (77 degrees F.), but OSA is more severe at 16°C and 20°C. This indicates that there’s a downside of people with sleep apnea needing to be careful how cool we keep our sleeping environment.

My grandmother used to say, “All things in moderation” and apparently in this case, it applies. Make sure you keep things cool enough to sleep well but not too cool as to make other health issues arise. Have a great summer and as the song says “see you in September.”