How to get to sleep in the heat

how to get to sleep in the heat

by take-a-break |
Updated on

Struggling to keep cool and get to sleep? Try this...

You know the feeling. You’ve got all the windows open, a fan in every room and your bedclothes have been well and truly kicked off. You’re doing everything you can to keep cool in the heat, but try as you might, you cannot sleep.

You’re not alone.

Some 62 per cent of us struggle to sleep during warmer weather, and with temperatures in the UK reaching up to 40 degrees in recent years, this looks set to worsen.

Katie Andrews, Climate Adaptation Project Manager at the British Red Cross says: ‘Unfortunately, due to climate change, heatwaves are likely to become more frequent and more extreme in the UK.

‘These rises in temperature will impact our life, health and wellbeing in many ways, and one of these areas will be sleep.

‘Poor sleep during a heatwave can leave us feeling more lethargic, less able to function productively and may even contribute towards feelings of anxiety and depression. It tangibly impacts our health.

‘That’s why it’s important that we do all we can to keep our homes and ourselves cool.

‘The more prepared we are for the heat, the more we can do to reduce its effects both on our sleep and our health.’

So, what we can we do? Here, Katie explores how…

Optimise your environment

‘One in five homes in England is likely to overheat during periods of hot weather, so taking measures to get your home as cool as possible is crucial for preparing for a good night’s sleep.

‘Keep windows shut in the day and only open them much later in the evening if the air outside is cooler than inside your home.

‘Block out as much direct sunlight and heat as possible in the daytime by ensuring blinds, curtains or shutters are closed. Even hanging a towel or sheet across windows can act as a good shield.

‘You want to try to sleep in the coolest room in the house. Be mindful that heat rises, so the top of your house is going to be extremely warm. If safe to do so, bring mattresses or bedding downstairs and sleep on the lowest level of your home temporarily.’

Keep your wrists cool

‘It can be tempting to have an icy shower before bed when we’re trying to cool off, but you’re better off opting for a lukewarm shower, as this will help to bring your body temperature down more gradually, which will help you fall asleep.

‘If you do need to cool down quickly, for example if you wake up feeling hot in the night, try soaking your wrists or feet in cold water. Our wrists and ankles have lots of blood vessels close to the skin, so immersing them in cold water helps us to cool down rapidly.’

Be tactical with exercise

‘Exercise is excellent for improving sleep quality. However, it’s crucial to do it safely during a heatwave. Never exercise between 11am and 3pm. Instead, either work out first thing in the morning or much later in the afternoon. This will help you avoid the heat and let your temperature drop before bed, encouraging sleepiness.’

Get your diet right

‘When it's hot, you’re best off sticking to light, well-balanced, regular meals. Food with a high water content like strawberries, cucumber, celery and salads will also help to keep you hydrated and cool.

‘Try to avoid spicy foods in the evenings, which raise your temperature before bed.

‘Limit caffeine and alcohol too, which can be dehydrating and impact sleep. Instead, stick to water or isotonic sports drinks to ensure you stay hydrated.’

Dress for success

‘You might think it’s best to sleep without bed clothes during a heatwave, but you’ll actually sleep better with a thin sheet over you rather than nothing, as this will help regulate your body temperature.

‘Likewise, people often think sleeping naked might help, but wearing something loose fitting in a breathable fabric such as cotton or linen, will stop sweat sticking to your body, leaving you more comfortable throughout the night.’

• For more info, please visit: and search ‘staying safe in a heat wave’

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