How to get better sleep in the summer

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says many Americans aren't getting enough rest, in fact they consider insufficient sleep an epidemic. Adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep and children need even more, but with longer and hotter days, sleep in the summer can be difficult.

Local sleep expert, Dr. Daniel Klauer of TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre in South Bend says start with the basics to create a sleep sanctuary.

"Make sure that the room is dark, get the blackout blinds, make sure there is no ambient light in the room," said Dr. Klauer. "We want to keep the room nice and cool. You want to be cold enough that you need a cover but not cold enough that you wake up shivering. You do want the temperature a little lower so you sleep better."

The summer is a popular time to open the windows, but Dr. Klauer says be mindful of allergens that can get into your house and keep you awake. Also, for people who are allergic to dogs and cats, it's a good idea to keep them out of the bedroom. Allergens can lead to congestion, which will also keep a person up at night. While fans are a great option to keep the air flowing, he says make sure they don't blow directly on you. That can also lead to congestion.

In addition to a calm and cool sleep environment, Dr. Klauer says what a person does before bed matters. He says you should give yourself ample time to unwind after exercising and should avoid trying to sleep on a full stomach. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol, as those will also keep you awake. As for television, Dr. Klauer says it's one of the worst things someone can do before bed because it gets the brain going.

"Even though you're sleeping, if there's light shining in the room that can stimulate you and wake you up. So, we even recommend covering the little dials on the TV units," said Dr. Klauer.

If all of these sleep suggestions are followed and a person still has trouble falling or staying asleep, or experiences daytime sleepiness, Dr. Klauer recommends seeking professional help. He says 20-25% of the population has sleep apnea and 80% of those cases go undiagnosed. For more information about sleep, click here. There's also a free smartphone app that asks a series of questions to determine if professional help is necessary. It's called "Best Sleep Hygiene."