If the summer heat is making it hard to sleep, it's about to get worse. If only for one night.
Sleepopolis.com, a mattress review and comparison website, predicts that Tennesseans will have their most sleepless night of the year on Wednesday. Folks in Alabama and Georgia will do the most tossing and turning on Thursday night, according to the Sleepopolis forecast.
The anticipated dates are based on predictions of when the hottest overnight temperatures, the longest amount of sunlight and highest humidity of the year collide. Sleepopolis researchers analyzed three decades of weather to identify when each state experiences the most uncomfortable conditions for a good night's sleep.
David Karnes, morning meteorologist with WRCB-TV 3, says the hot and humid weather is typical for July.
The average high for the month is about 90 degrees, and the most uncomfortable time in July concerning the weather is predicted to be between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. when people are trying to sleep and temperatures remain in the 80s.
"That can be really hot without air-conditioning," Karnes says. "Your body is just lying there with high humidity."
Temperatures usually drop into the 70s around 3 or 4 a.m. The most comfortable times of day this month are between 6 a.m. and noon, says Karnes.
Dr. Tareck Kadrie, director of Erlanger's Sleep Disorders Center, says the Sleepopolis researchers' reasoning is valid.
"That's common that people have difficulty when it's warm and hot in general," he says. "Heat can promote wakefulness. And the opposite is cooler weather can promote sleep. So if you're sleeping in a hot environment, it leads to sub-optimal sleep."
Lots of dangers can come from not getting enough sleep, even compromised health and death, according to some research, says Kadrie.
Sleep deprivation can compromise abilities in the workplace or in the classroom and can be deadly dangerous for drivers. People who lack sleep may lose some short-term memory, make compromised decisions and may be more irritable than normal.
Kadrie recommends several steps to promote sleep in the midst of hot summer nights and in general.
"The key is to do whatever one can to prevent excessive heat in the sleep environment," says Kadrie. "So if someone has the means to create a cooler sleeping environment, that is certainly one thing that we would recommend."
But not everyone has air-conditioning, he says.
Other steps include hanging blinds, curtains or shades that block sunlight, which increases indoor temperatures.
Also keep rooms as dark as possible because bright light hinders sleep.
"If you have a profession where you wake up early and try to go to sleep early, it's a lot harder to sleep when it's light outside, so that's the other challenge that's present during the summer's long hot days," he says.
Residents in multistory dwellings should know that heat rises, so the lower you are, the cooler it will be.
Cotton sheets also may help for some people, compared to silk, polyester or rayon, which all tend to repel water. Cotton is better at soaking up moisture and allowing it to evaporate from the outer surface.
Drink cold water for hydration.
Some people put a cool damp cloth in the freezer and put it on their forehead before going to bed.
In general, people can try to develop a good routine to promote better sleep.
That includes going to bed and waking up around the same time every night, avoiding caffeine, avoiding strenuous exercise that may speed up your heart rate and avoiding spicy foods, which can stir up your digestive system before bed.
"We don't recommend people be on their phone, on their computer or watching TV in the bed at night," he says.
People who consistently have trouble sleeping and feel their lack of sleep could compromise their health should seek professional help and they may consider being tested for sleep apnea, says Kadrie.
Contact Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.