Hot and steamy summer nights can make it difficult to sleep unless people are fully air-conditioned. Supposing that Koreans are most comfortably acclimatized to around 18-20 degrees at night, tropical nights are synonymous with a lot of tossing and turning.
So how to maintain the right body temperature? Normally the body recognizes that it is getting dark and the temperature drops towards night and increases the secretion of melatonin, but if the mercury stays above 25 degrees, the body cannot cool down.
Taking a walk of 20 to 30 minutes in the early evening or stretching your limbs can elevate the body temperature temporarily so that there is a marked cooling toward bedtime.
Taking showers with lukewarm water also cools down the body, but cold showers are not a good idea because they startle you awake. And while drinking alcohol can induce drowsiness, the effect passes and then induces uncomfortable wakefulness.
Food can also make a difference. Minerals like calcium, magnesium and tryptophan help the body secrete more melatonin and help people sleep better. Bananas, milk products and anchovies contain lots of those minerals. But foods that are high in carbohydrates or sugar boost blood-sugar levels to trigger insulin secretion, which hinders sleep.
Choi Jae-won at Nowon Eulji Medical Center in Seoul said, "When you sleep with the air conditioner on, leave the temperature two to three degrees higher than your usual sleeping level and set a timer if you don't want to wake up in the middle of the night shivering."
"Eating lots of food before going to bed stresses your stomach, so drink some milk or have a light snack instead," he added.