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How to sleep in the heat, as summer weather finally arrives

Temperatures are climbing, and your sleep quality may be declining. Imy Brighty-Potts finds out how to safeguard your slumber.


(Alamy/PA)

Summer heatwaves are on the way, with temperatures predicted to jump into the mid-twenties this weekend and beyond.


As lovely as this sounds though, as many of us have experienced year after year, sleeping in the heat can be challenging. So, why is sleeping harder when it’s hot?


“Our bodies need to cool down in order to sleep” explains Theresa Schnorbach, psychologist and Emma sleep scientist. “As everyone’s bodies are acclimatised to different environments, there’s no hard and fast rule as to what temperature your bedroom should be, but it is recommended that your sleep environment be comfortably cool – usually this means between 15.5-19°C. If we are too warm, our core temperature is unable to drop, making it more difficult to fall asleep and causing sleep disturbances,” Schnorbach adds.


So, how can you boost your sleep quality during summer heatwaves?


1. Ventilate wisely


A well-ventilated room is a must (Alamy/PA)

“Firstly, you should look to keep windows and curtains closed during the day to help keep your bedroom cool,” suggests Schnorbach. “During the night, you can open your windows and curtains to allow a fresh breeze in. A fan can also help to keep cool air circulating throughout the night, and the white noise produced by this can also have the added benefit of helping you to drift off.”


Of course, only leave windows open if it’s safe and secure to do so. If that’s not an option, vents and fans may be your best friend for summer slumber!


2. Change your bedding if necessary


“It’s also worth thinking about your mattress and bedding materials in warmer weather. Mattresses with open coil systems, for example, can allow air to circulate throughout,” says Schnorbach.


“If you’re not looking to replace your whole mattress, a mattress topper can be a great alternative. When made from the right material, mattress toppers can keep you fresh and cool throughout the night by providing another breathable layer on top of your mattress, helping to regulate your body’s temperature and give you a comfortable sleep.”


3. Consider your pulse points


Find your pulse points and snooze happily (Alamy/PA)

It can be extremely frustrating when you’re tossing and turning due to over-heating. There may be additional steps you can take to boost that cool-down effect.


“Utilise your body’s pulse points – areas where your blood flows closest to the surface of your skin, such as your wrists or the sides of your neck. Wrap an ice pack in a cloth or a towel – never apply ice directly to your skin – hold it against these pulse points to help you quickly cool off,” Schnorbach suggests.


“Similarly, you can also use a hot-water bottle filled with cold water, a cool, damp flannel, or try splashing cold water on these pulse points. Your body’s blood vessels will react to the cool sensation and instantly bring your core temperature down. However, avoid your feet and hands, as this can prevent you from falling asleep.”


4. Take a lukewarm shower


“While a freezing cold shower before bed may be what you’re craving to help beat the heat, I suggest opting for one that is lukewarm instead,” adds Schnorbach. “A shower that is too cold will actually cause the body to warm up again to re-balance the body temperature.”



5. Go nude or wear cotton


“If you’re someone that can’t sleep without some kind of clothing on, wearing pyjamas of natural cotton is your best bet, as the material actually helps your skin breathe while absorbing your sweat during the night,” Schnorbach explains.


6. Munch on sleep-supporting fruits


“A summer fruit that’s usually plentiful in the warmer months, cherries help to increase melatonin – a hormone that helps in promoting sleep. By producing more melatonin, your body can help better regulate its internal clock and you can doze off more easily at night,” Schnorbach explains.


“Bananas are another fruit that can also help aid sleep. Bananas have high levels of magnesium and potassium, which can help to increase your sleep duration and promote relaxation.”


7. Have a cuddle


And Schnorbach’s final tip? Have a snuggle. She says: “While it may feel counterintuitive, a cuddle before bed can help in reducing your core temperature by encouraging your blood vessels to dilate, thus losing excessive body heat.”

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