Summer Insomnia: Why Does it Happen and What Can You Do About It?

During the summer, you might have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night. We tell you why this happens and what you can do about it.
Summer Insomnia: Why Does it Happen and What Can You Do About It?
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

After a year of stress, work pressure, and various other obligations, you look forward to the arrival of summer so you can have a rest. However, despite the greater leisure time and relaxation associated with vacations, your body often doesn’t seem to want to collaborate and sleeping becomes an impossible task. In fact, summer insomnia is really common and is due to various causes. Fortunately, there are ways to combat it.

Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep isn’t a minor issue. Lack of sleep affects your moods, your cognitive functioning, and physical performance. If you sleep poorly, you’re likely to feel tired, listless, and lacking in energy. Furthermore, you feel irritable and moody and have trouble concentrating.

To avoid these unpleasant consequences, it’s important to know what causes insomnia as well as what measures to take to reduce its impact.

Why does summer insomnia occur?

Paradoxically, those aspects that you like the most about the summer season are those that can become your worst enemies when it comes to resting. Here are the main ones:

More hours of daylight

During the summer, there are more hours of daylight and the sun sets later. Although this allows you to enjoy more leisure time outdoors, it can also affect melatonin production. This hormone is naturally generated by your body and is responsible for inducing sleep every night.

Normally, melatonin production begins to increase as ambient light decreases, signaling to your body that it’s time to sleep. In the summer, this release is delayed and can cause you problems in falling asleep.

High temperatures

This is one of the most obvious causes of summer insomnia. In fact, the ideal environmental temperature for sleep is around 18-21 °C. However, in many homes, it’s almost impossible to maintain.

When the environment exceeds 26 °C, falling asleep and getting quality rest becomes really difficult. In addition, if you choose to open the windows to regulate the temperature, you’re exposed to environmental noise and excessive light that can hinder your rest.

Woman with a fan at night
if the temperature is 26º C or above, it can become difficult to sleep properly.

Lack of physical exercise

Physical exercise is an excellent ally in combating insomnia and improving the quality of sleep. However, during the summer your levels of physical activity decrease considerably. You spend most of your time in sedentary activities and this can take its toll on you when it comes to going to sleep.

Different habits and a lack of routine

It’s also common for your routines to be disrupted in the summer. Indeed, during the holidays, you go to bed and get up later than usual, and don’t follow fixed schedules. This lack of order can mean you don’t know when it’s time to rest and when you should be active.

Also, you tend to take frequent naps during the summer; and, if these exceed a certain amount of time, they can impair your night’s rest.

Leisure and excesses

Finally, the summer period usually leads you to certain habits that harm your rest. You eat larger meals, drink more alcohol, and tend to do so closer to bedtime. It’s even common for you to be more active during the last few hours of the day, which makes it difficult for your body to prepare for rest.

Friends having dinner at night
Large dinners, alcohol, and increased activity at night can lead to sleep difficulties.

How to combat summer insomnia

In short, there are multiple factors that contribute to summer insomnia. Even so, there are certain measures you can take to combat it:

  • Ventilate and cool your bedroom before sleeping. As far as possible, you must ensure that your environment remains at the optimum temperature. It’s also useful to use fresh bedding, made of fabrics such as cotton or linen.
  • Practice physical activity on a regular basis and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. However, it’s important not to do so in the few hours before bed, as this can activate you and prevent you from falling asleep.
  • Try to follow a routine. Although it gets dark later, you don’t necessarily have to delay your dinner or bedtime. Even if you’re on vacation, you shouldn’t excessively alter your usual routine.
  • Naps shouldn’t exceed 30 minutes in length and shouldn’t be taken later than six pm.
  • You should avoid the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and other stimulating substances in the few hours before bedtime. You should also opt for light dinners and allow yourself time to digest them before going to bed.
  • Help your body to recognize when it’s time to rest and when not. To do this, try to be active during the day and spend some time before going to sleep doing quiet activities that lower your level of activation and promote drowsiness.
  • Regulate your exposure to light during the last hours of the day to promote melatonin production. Try drawing the curtains and blinds from eight in the evening, maintain dim lighting, and avoid the use of screens.

It’s not always possible to apply the above guidelines; however, try to do so as much as possible. This will help you combat summer insomnia, and give you a better night’s sleep. Then, you’ll be in a better mood and have more energy during the day.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Carrillo-Mora, P., Ramírez-Peris, J., & Magaña-Vázquez, K. (2013). Neurobiología del sueño y su importancia: antología para el estudiante universitario. Revista de la Facultad de Medicina UNAM56(4), 5-15.
  • Soares, G., Rollemberg, D. L., Gonçalves, M., Tufik, S., & Mello, M. T. (2012). Is exercise an alternative treatment for chronic insomnia?. Clinics67, 653-660.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.