The summer solstice (or estival solstice), is marked by the middle of summer, also known as midsummer, occurs June 21st. This means longer daylight hours and warmer weather that most of us have been long waiting for but can it affect how well we sleep?
In June the Northern hemisphere is tilted most towards the sun. Any countries lying on the Northern hemisphere, like Ireland, will experience summer solstice in June. This is whenthe sun reaches it’s highest point in the sky giving the longest daylight hours and warmer weather because we are closer to the sun.
The summer solstice is a significant time of the year and marked by many rituals and celebrations by many cultures all over the world.
However, more daylight also affects how we sleep. We need sunshine to keep our circadian rhythm in sync and working our body clocks optimally as well as many other bodily functions. We also know that too much light at bedtime will keep us awake. This happens because our melatonin, our sleep hormone, is not able to be released efficiently in the evening. With the sun setting around 10pm in June, it makes it very difficult to have a sleep wind down routing and settle down for bed.
With the extra daylight hours, most people sleep less during the summer months. For those who have sleep disorders, the extra daylight hours can be especially troublesome.
These extended daylight hours can negatively impact our sleeping patterns by tricking our bodies into staying up later. Together with the warmer weather and longer evenings, it can be very challenging especially when you have little ones. Many people tend to wake up in the early hours of the morning with sunshine coming in through the curtains.
Here’s what to do
- Use an eye mask to block out light
- Get black out curtains. This is an absolute must during summer months
- Take advantage of the sun and get outside for fresh air and some exercise during the day
- Don’t eat heavy meals too late before bed. Take a bedtime snack to make sure you stay asleep during the night. This will help keep blood sugars stabilised during the night. A spoonful of raw honey is a good trick or some kefir yogurt.
- Stay hydrated. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. We are primarily made of water and it is essential for life. It optimises blood pressure, regulates body temperature and is required for eliminating of waste. With warmer weather and more outdoor activities it is essential to stay well hydrated.
- Open your windows and use a fan in your room at night.
- Use lighter bedding and bedclothes
The summer solstice and long summer evenings can affect our sleeping habits. However, there are steps we can put in place to get the sufficient sleep we require and for our children.
For more information you can get my free ebook here ‘Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Health’