Amid all of the methods for boosting your productivity, little can help more than getting a good night's rest--a goal that's particularly elusive during the dog days of summer.
To help you beat the heat, Inc. tapped Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute in Mebane, North Carolina. Here are five minor adjustments that can have a major impact on your ability to both fall and stay asleep, even when the temperature ticks up outside.
1. Turn the lights off--completely.
Our body naturally produces the sleep hormone, melatonin, in complete darkness. Any small amount of light, even the light coming from your alarm clock, can disrupt the production of melatonin, Oexman says. And when the sun rises earlier in the morning, we can miss out on a good night of sleep. Oexman recommends investing in blackout shades or curtains to prevent any light from waking you up too early. A simple eye mask can also help to produce that necessary melatonin.
2. Stay cool.
Cool temperatures are a must for your body to fall asleep and stay that way all night long, Oexman says. We would ideally go to sleep in a room set to about 65 to 68 degrees.
For those who want an alternative to cranking up the air conditioner, consider these tips. Take a warm shower before bed. The human body starts to cool about 30 to 45 minutes after taking a warm shower, Oexman says. He also recommends using separate blankets from your partner as people have different temperature needs. And if all else fails, put a small amount of rubbing alcohol on your arms, legs and chest has also proven to help cool the body down.
3. Skip the nightly glass of water.
While taking in a refreshing glass of water right before bed may seem like a good idea to cool off, Oexman says he wouldn't recommend it. "I think it's appropriate to start shutting water down probably an hour to an hour and a half prior to falling asleep," he says. "We want to minimize the amount of time that they get up and use the restroom." We tend to stay fairly hydrated throughout the night even without that glass of water before bed.
4. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time.
One of the biggest problems Oexman's patients have is keeping a consistent sleep schedule--that is, going to bed and waking up at the same time every night. Though nothing can really beat staying out late on a cool summer night, Oexman says that even an hour or two shift in your sleep schedule on weekends can make Monday's even worse.
If you do find yourself out late on a weekend night, Oexman says it's more important to keep with your schedule than to sleep in to get a full night's rest. Though you may be a bit tired throughout that day, your body will thank you for sticking to a schedule.
5. Exercise long before bedtime.
"Exercise is great for sleep," Oexman says. "The older we get, the better exercise is for our sleep." But when we exercise, our bodies heat up naturally, so falling asleep right after exercise is even more difficult. The prime time to exercise during the evening is three to four hours before bed, Oexman says, as this is the time the body starts to cool itself down.