By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The summer solstice, on Saturday June 21st, is the longest day of the year, extra time to enjoy the summer sun. But doctors are warning that it could cause trouble for the millions of people who suffer with sleep problems.
Tiffany Rittenhouse works at the Jefferson Sleep Center and ironically suffers with insomnia herself. “I never feel rested and you just feel miserable all day”, Tiffany says. For the millions like Tiffany who need as much darkness as possible to sleep, Saturday the summer solstice could be especially troublesome. Tiffany says, “As soon as I see the light, I’m up.”
Sunrise on Saturday will be at 5:32am in the Philadelphia region and 15 hours later the sun will set at 8:33pm. It’s a lot of daylight, which reduces production of the hormone melatonin that regulates sleep. “Light antagonizes melatonin”, says Dr. Karl Doghramji, Medical Director of the Jefferson Sleep Disorders Center. He says stress and other things can also interfere with sleep, but the extra dose of sunlight that comes with the solstice can make insomnia even worse. “Because of that we don’t sleep as well. Melatonin is important for sleep but it is not being secreted until later into the night.” Dr. Doghramji says.
He says shutting out as much light as possible will help. And it might sound strange, but Dr. Doghramji also recommends wearing sun glasses in the early evening until it gets really dark that will help stimulate melatonin. He says, “We’re already not sleeping enough because of work and other demands and now because of all the light in the environment we’re sleeping even less, building up even more daytime sleepiness.”
Experts say generally because of the extra daylight people sleep less in the summer.
Jefferson’s Sleep Center- http://hospitals.jefferson.edu/departments-and-services/sleep-disorders-center/
National Sleep Foundation- http://sleepfoundation.org/