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BEATING THE HEAT Sleepless in summer? Rest easier



Published: Mon, July 30, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



It's not easy to conquer the summer slumber blues.

By VERONICA GORLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

Some Valley residents have found a surefire way to beat the summer heat when it comes to catching Z's: Stay cool.

Although a recent Serta Inc. survey found than more than half of us say summer is the most difficult season for getting our beauty rest, folks here understand that the heat won't affect you if you don't feel it.

Case 1: Party time.

Megan Brown, 17, of Fowler said that getting sleep during the summer is tough.

"Because you want to get out and do stuff with your friends," she explained. "People party a lot at that time."

Brown said she wakes up early in the mornings more often during the summer, and the heat sometimes bothers her. She does have air conditioning, though, which sometimes helps her sleep.

"As long as it's not too cold," she said with a smile.

Comfy clothes: To help her sleep better during the summer, Brown wears cooler clothes to bed. Interestingly enough, she believes caffeine makes her sleep.

"People think that's weird because that's what they drink to stay awake."

She always watches television before bed.

"Have to. I can't go to sleep without the TV," she said.

The Mathews High School senior doesn't maintain a regular sleep schedule because she's usually busy, she said.

"My mom wakes me up. Sometimes I'll get up early, sometimes I won't. It depends on how late I stay up. Sometimes I won't even go to bed."

Brown said she stayed up for 36 hours straight a few weeks ago when out-of-town friends visited, but she does enjoy her beauty rest.

"It's my favorite pastime. If it's not sports, it's sleeping."

Case 2: Quiet, please.

"[Sleeping] is something that I really enjoy, but I don't get enough of," declared Michele Parker.

Even though summer is the most difficult season for her to sleep, the 49-year-old said that she runs a fan in her room all year long.

"If I don't run my air conditioner or fan to drown out the noise, I can't sleep," she said. "That constant background noise helps me sleep year-round."

A resident of East Palestine, Parker sleeps best when her room is cool at night.

Tracking teen: Parker believes one factor that keeps her awake more during the summer is trying to keep track of her 14-year-old daughter.

She works swing shifts -- 12 hours a day for four days at a steel mill -- so maintaining a regular sleep schedule is difficult, she said, adding, "It's important that I get at least four hours."

Parker said her lack of rest is taking a toll.

"I'm sleep deprived to the max," she said. "I look it, I feel it, I'm dangerous on the highway."

She tries opening windows, chewing gum and turning on the radio to stay awake on the road. Often she goes to bed and wakes up with a headache -- a consequence that she believes results from sleep deprivation.

Parker agrees with experts who say sleepers should keep their bedroom cool, quiet and TV-free.

"Bedrooms are supposed to be for two purposes, and one is sleeping."

Case 3: Nightly routine.

Summertime is not a more difficult season for sleeping, said Marlin Jones, who is -- coincidentally -- a sleep technologist.

The Warren resident has air conditioning, which definitely helps him sleep, he said.

Jones, 29, tries to maintain a regular sleep schedule throughout the year by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, but he may sleep an hour or two longer on weekends.

He starts his nightly bedtime ritual around 7 or 8. He showers, eats, gets ready for the next day and watches at least two hours of television.

"TV is the last thing before I go to bed," Jones said.

Seldom sleepless: He seldom has problems going to sleep and rarely wakes up in the middle of the night. Sometimes stress or anxiety cause sleeplessness, he said, and clock watching makes him toss and turn.

"I'm still tired when I wake up if there's a lot on my mind," Jones said.

He never presses the snooze button on his alarm, he stressed.

"As soon as it goes off I get right up."

Case 4: Natural air conditioning.

Lyle Bailey, 70, also said that summer is not more difficult than other seasons in terms of sleeping. Though the Lordstown resident doesn't have air conditioning, the heat doesn't bother him.

"Big farmhouse with lots of shade -- natural AC," he explained.

In addition to the shade from the large trees around his house, the house stays cool when Bailey runs three fans plus the attic exhaust. Bailey closes up the house during the hot days and opens the windows at night when the air is cooler. He runs the attic fan to circulate the evening air throughout the house. Then he shuts up the house early in the morning.

Schedule: Bailey tries to maintain a regular sleep schedule. His nightly routine is setting the television's timer and falling asleep during the 11 o'clock news, and he wakes automatically around 6:30 every morning.

"You become a creature of habit after many years," Bailey said.

He notices that he often wakes twice a night -- around 2:30 and again around 4:30 -- each time looking at the clock and deciding it's too early to get up.

Though retired, Bailey still works on his farm during the summer.

"I don't get enough relaxation," he said.

Fatigue helps him sleep during the summer, he said, and nothing really keeps him from sleeping.

"I don't have anything to worry about -- as long as the pension check comes in," he joked.

During the heat of summer or anytime, sleep is a valued commodity, and one of Bailey's beliefs rings true to many Americans: "I just think I ought to get more of it."




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