August 22, 2009
It is hot and humid and I am sleep-challenged in weather like this. I have looked all through the internet to find out the biological connections and have not come up with many reasons for my wakefulness except I can’t sleep when it’s hot. Even on my Nikken sleep system.
According to Dr. Jonathan Fleming, co-director of the sleep program at University of B.C. Hospital, controlling your environment is crucial to getting a good night’s sleep. In an article in The Province, Fleming goes on to say that even those who sleep well will not get optimal rest in the heat. People have less Rapid Eye Movement sleep, which is associated with memory and cognition. They also experience more unconscious awakenings, he said. Unconscious awakenings? What the heck are those? I can’t find anything in that category anywhere on the internet- I have to assume that means when we wake up but aren’t really aware of it – like when we change positions, roll over, fluff the pillow, whatever and do not remember doing so.
But Fleming added that people shouldn’t be too concerned about lost sleep during the heat wave. Temperature-related wakefulness only accounts for half an hour of lost sleep per night. Then why did I toss and turn ALL NIGHT- finally falling unconscious when the sun came up?
There are only a few nights in the summer when I find it hard to sleep. We do not use air conditioners in our bedroom- it usually cools down at night in the foothills of the Berkshires. But we have just purchased a “swamp cooler”- a fan that blows air over a reservoir of cold water- will let you know if it helps- But some other helpful things to do to cool down at bed time include taking a cool shower, putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan, opening windows at night to cool down the house and closing the house, pulling shades in the morning to keep the cool air in. Try putting a damp towel in the freezer for a few minutes and wearing on your head or around your neck for awhile, having a spritzer bottle of water to spray over the bed every once in awhile. Any other suggestions besides checking into a motel for a few nights, let me know.