General Wellness

Summer Slumber: How Longer Days Affect Sleep And Appetite

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Unless you’re a teenager who sleeps until noon on summer days, odds are that you get less sleep during the summer than during the rest of the year. This is because the longer hours of daylight affect your circadian rhythm (internal clock) and because the heat can disturb your sleep-wake cycle. Keep reading to find out how summer impacts your sleep, why this affects your appetite, and what you can do to improve your sleep and maintain control over your appetite.

Why Does Summer Affect Your Sleep?

Summer occurs during daylight savings time (DST). The clock change in March (when we move the clock forward an hour) can have far reaching effects, beyond making you late for work for a day or two. Our bodies have their own daily rhythm, and daylight savings isn’t a part of our natural patterns. In fact, because of its effects on health, the Sleep Research Society is trying to put an end to daylight savings time (1). With more daylight hours in the afternoon, it means that people are exposed to daylight closer to the time they go to sleep, which could interfere with their sleep-wake signals. Research has found that during daylight savings time, people average 19 minutes less of sleep and are more likely to report not having slept enough (2).

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Why Does Sleeping Less Make You Hungry More?

Sleeping less can increase your hunger due to several physiological and hormonal changes that occur in response to sleep deprivation. Here are the primary reasons:

  • Hormonal Imbalance: Sleep deprivation affects your hunger hormones, and not for the better (3). When you are sleep deprived, levels of ghrelin increase, which makes you feel hungrier. Additionally, lack of sleep leads to a decrease in the leptin, which is the hormone responsible for making you feel full.
  • Increased Cortisol Levels: When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more cortisol, which is one of the stress hormones. These elevated cortisol levels increase your hunger and make you crave high-calorie comfort foods.
  • Altered Glucose Metabolism: Poor sleep can impair insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, meaning that it can cause you to experience higher blood sugar levels (3). Elevated blood sugar can lead to polyphagia, a condition in which you experience an increase in appetite because your cells are not receiving the energy (sugar) that they need, leading them to signal that you should eat more (4).
  • Increased Energy Expenditure: While being awake longer doesn’t significantly increase overall energy expenditure, it might make you feel more tired and less willing to engage in physical activity. This can lead to a perceived need for more food to compensate for the lack of energy.

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5 Tips For Sleeping In The Summer

Summer’s longer days and warmer nights can make it challenging to get a good night’s sleep. Here are some tips to help you stay cool and rest easy during those hot summer nights.

1. Stick to a Schedule

Consistency is key! Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps keep your body’s internal clock in sync and improves sleep quality. Think of it as training your body to know when it’s time to wind down and when it’s time to rise and shine!

2. Create a Darker Environment Leading Up to Sleep

Light is the enemy of sleep. In the hour before bed, dim the lights and put away your electronic devices (or at the very least turn on a blue light filter on your screens). Blue light from phones or other screens can mess with your melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep. Blackout curtains can be a game-changer by blocking out those extra hours of daylight so your bedroom stays dark and cozy.

>>Discover 8 Reasons Why Sleep Is Good For You

3. Turn on the AC or Fan

Keep it cool! A cool bedroom is essential for a good night’s sleep. Use an air conditioner or a fan to create a comfortable sleeping environment. If AC isn’t an option, try lightweight bedding and moisture-wicking sheets to stay cool. Remember, a cooler room helps your body’s core temperature drop, which signals it’s time to sleep.

4. Exercise During the Day

Move your body! Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity most days, but try to finish your workout a few hours before bedtime. Exercising too close to bedtime can leave you too energized to sleep.

5. Take a Supplement to Improve Sleep Quality

Need a little extra help? Consider taking a sleep supplement like melatonin, magnesium, or valerian root. These can enhance sleep quality and make it easier to fall asleep. Just be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement to ensure it’s right for you.

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Summer’s longer days and warmer nights can throw off your sleep patterns and increase your appetite, creating a challenging cycle to break. The extended daylight hours disrupt your circadian rhythm, while the heat makes it harder to sleep comfortably. These factors combined with sleep deprivation can lead to hormonal imbalances, elevated cortisol levels, and altered glucose metabolism, all of which boost your hunger and cravings.

However, by understanding these impacts and implementing effective strategies, you can improve your sleep quality and maintain better control over your appetite. Sticking to a consistent schedule, creating a darker pre-sleep environment, keeping your bedroom cool, staying active during the day, and considering sleep supplements are all great ways to combat summer sleep disturbances.

By taking these steps, you can ensure that summer remains a season of relaxation and enjoyment rather than one of restless nights and increased hunger. Sweet dreams and happy, healthy days ahead!

>>CLICK HERE For Our Guide To Over The Counter Appetite Suppressants

Trina used to be a full time hospital dietician but now works as a medical secretary in a small clinic. She and Mr. Walker are proud empty-nesters living in Denver, Colorado and looking forward to the next time their children come to visit. On the weekends, Trina enjoys visiting Bonita, Chino, and Bernardo, the golden lion tamarins at the Denver Zoo.

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