Summertime Snoozin’: What You Need to Know About the Summer Solstice and Sleep
Who doesn’t love summer? Spending time soaking up the sun, strolling on the boardwalk, or splashing in the waves makes this time of year a favorite amongst both children and adults.
Yes, the summer months are a time to be cherished by all. But, did you know that we also get less sleep between June and August than we do during any other month of the year?
You’d think all of the time spent in The Great Outdoors and the additional physical activity that goes hand-in-hand with summertime would have us catching even more Z’s than we do in the fall or winter.
Sadly, that’s not the case, and one of the worst days for getting some decent summer slumber is right around the corner. We’re talking about the longest day of the year, otherwise known as the Summer Solstice, which falls on June 21st.
In the United States, we can get up to 16 hours of sunlight or more during the Summer Solstice, which makes it a great day for barbeques and pool parties, but not so much for getting the recommended minimum of 8 hours of sleep that we need to thrive.
We thought it might be fun to look into what makes the Summer Solstice a double-edged sword when it comes to enjoying a fun-filled day and also risking the dangers of sleep loss during the night that follows.
Keep on reading for some awesome ways to celebrate the longest day of summer and get the rest that you need…
Summer Solstice Facts and Fun
So what exactly is the Summer Solstice? It’s the one day of the year when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, resulting in extra daylight hours for us all. It also happens to be the day that kick starts summer for us, giving us extra time to enjoy it.
On the 21st of June, the axis of the Earth tilts toward the sun, causing a shift of about 23 degrees, bringing us closer to the fiery star and resulting in the longest day (and shortest night) of the year.
People have been celebrating the Summer Solstice since the Stone Age, and cultures from around the globe have rejoiced in the renewal of life and hoped for an abundant harvest on that day for thousands of years.
Even in today’s world, groups gather together to celebrate the Summer Solstice with bonfires, outdoor feasts, and joyful festivals filled with singing and dancing. Many families continue to make a tradition of coming together each year to enjoy the start of summer.
9 Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice
Want to join in with others around the world and have a fun-filled celebration of your own? Check out these simple tips for making the most out of the Summer Solstice…
- Greet the day with a sun salutation: What better way to welcome extra hours of sunlight than with a yoga move dedicated to greeting the sun? Give your body a great overall stretch when you wake up on the Summer Solstice by doing a sun salutation to start your day.
- Tune into nature by eating outdoors: Enjoy the longest day of the year the way your ancestors did by eating outdoors. You can have a backyard barbecue or plan a picnic in the park. It just might make you feel more festive to soak up some sun as you eat. Just be sure to pack enough sunscreen!
- Invite extended family to help you celebrate: There’s no reason to let the Fourth of July be the only family celebration of the summer! Start a new family tradition by hosting an event at the beach or in your own backyard to welcome the start of summer. You can even include the kiddos in planning the revelries to make the day all the more special and memorable.
- Host a summer-themed scavenger hunt: You can be the hit of the neighborhood by hosting a scavenger hunt dedicated to celebrating summer. Create clues that lead to summertime supplies like sunglasses, bug catchers, or even gift certificates to a local ice cream shop.
- Add a cooling touch to the day: Marking the arrival of summer is always cooler when there’s water involved! Spend some time at the pool or the beach, start a water gun battle for the kids, or create a relaxing (and cooling) spot for the adults by adding water misters to a gathering of beach chairs.
- Embrace the Earth by getting your hands dirty: Celebrate the season of natural growth by planting a flower or vegetable garden. No backyard? No problem! You can easily start a patio garden in even the smallest of outdoor spaces.
- Bury the negativity of the past: Summer is a season of renewal, so what better way is there to celebrate than leaving the past behind? Start a tradition of burying negative experiences by having family members write down what they’d like to leave behind them and literally burying them in the backyard. Think of it as hitting the Summer Solstice restart button and renewing yourself with the season!
- Start a summer bucket list: Use the longest day of the year to plan out the rest of the summer fun you want to have with your family and friends. Create a bucket list of all the things you want to accomplish during the summer months, whether that might be visiting with family across the country, checking out a new theme park, or learning a summer-themed skill like surfing or snorkeling.
- Take the opportunity to gaze at the stars: After an extra-long day in the sun, you might want to take advantage of nighttime rolling in earlier by doing a bit of amateur stargazing. Do some research online or take a family trip to the library to learn what you’re looking for in the summertime night skies.
Summer Solstice and Sleep
While the Summer Solstice gives us more time to play in the sun, it also gives us fewer hours to sleep at night, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that some of us are going to have trouble resting up at the start of summer.
Whether you have AC or not, you can still get great sleep in the summer, if you keep some simple tips in mind. Sleep experts have found that additional exposure to sunlight can have a negative impact on our sleep, but it can also help us to reset our natural body clocks, when approached correctly.
Here’s what you need to know about the Summer Solstice and what it means when it comes to better sleep health…
- Keep those sun rays in mind: Our natural sleep-wake cycles are regulated by light, which means it can make or break you when trying to get some sleep. Grab some sun early in the day but do your best to avoid exposure to light as it gets closer to bedtime.
- Avoid wonky schedules: One of the worst things you can do when it comes to getting the best quality of sleep possible is flip-flopping your bedtime. If you get up early on the weekdays, you should avoid the temptation of sleeping in later on the weekends. This will help to avoid confusing your body’s natural clock and allow it to more easily know when it’s time to turn in for the night.
- Use the extra light to your advantage: If you’re looking for a foolproof way to banish sleepless nights, the Summer Solstice just might hold the key. Those extra hours of sunlight (and the fact that nighttime comes earlier) on the longest day of the year could help you reset your body clock, allowing you to get used to an earlier sleep-wake cycle.
How to Sleep Better in the Summer Months
If your goal is to get some awesome sleep this summer, without missing out on any of the fun, you should definitely keep the above facts about the Summer Solstice in mind.
But what about the rest of the steamy nights ahead? We’ve got some helpful hints for you to get the sleep you need, no matter how hot things might get, and help you enjoy your summer to the max.
Here’s how to get some amazing sleep, even during the year’s hottest months…
Prep Your Room for Summer – You don’t want to spend your nights tossing and turning, so you need to refresh your bedroom for the summer months. This can be as simple as trading your cold-weather bedding for some cotton sheets or picking up a memory foam pillow that helps you keep a cool head during the night.
Keep Things Airy – It’s been shown that keeping your sleep space cool and dark is one of the best ways to get to sleep and stay that way. During the day, keep your windows cracked to let in some fresh air, and keep your ceiling fans going 24/7 during the summer months. This will not only cool things down, it will also circulate the air in your home, helping to oxygenate the air for better sleep.
Cut Down on Extra Heat – While open windows can create a cooling cross breeze, leaving your curtains or blinds open during the daytime hours can allow too much light into your home, creating a greenhouse effect, and actually increase the temperature. Be sure to keep your windows covered during the day, even when cracked open to let in some air.
Get Cooler Sheets – If you want to give yourself a cool head start at bedtime, you can lower your body temperature quickly when you hit the hay by sticking your sheets into your freezer for 3 to 5 minutes before going to bed.
Drink for Sleep – You not only want to drink plenty of water throughout your days in the summertime to keep you hydrated and healthy, you also might want to keep your drinks focused on getting better rest by choosing sleep-boosting beverages like chamomile tea in the late afternoon and evening hours.
Ditch the Layers – Another simple way to stay cool and ready for sleep during the summer months is by cutting out unnecessary layers in your nighttime clothing. Just switching to cotton pajamas or even saying no to sleepwear at all can bring your body temperature down and help you fall asleep faster and easier when it’s hot outside.
Give Yourself Some Space – Sleeping with your partner is a great way to make the two of you feel closer, but when it’s starting to make one of you sweat through the sheets, it might be time for a change. We’re not talking about riding the couch here! It can be much easier to simply upgrade to a larger mattress size. This will give you both the space you need to sleep soundly, no matter how hot it might be, and still give you a shot at some bedtime snuggling.
More Help for Welcoming Summer Fun and Better Sleep
Now that you’ve learned all that you need to know about the Summer Solstice, it’s time to make sure you get the most out of all of your summer days (and nights!) with some helpful hints on having some sunny fun and getting some sound sleep with these related articles…