As the weather heats up this summer, we’re all looking for how to sleep in the heat. Fans are coming out and quickly being added to the shopping list, but is there a better way to cool down before going to sleep?
Summer is finally here and of course we are excited about the lighter mornings and evenings, but there’s no denying that the increase and fluctuations in temperature plays havoc on our sleep. Lying awake in bed, throwing the blanket off, and then pulling it back on again, it’s not exactly a comfortable experience.
Why is it hard to sleep in the heat?
Sleep specialist Dr Greg Potter explains that it is all a part of our body’s response to danger, “It makes evolutionary sense that temperature affects our ability to sleep, for if it gets very hot or cold then you’d better not be asleep.”
When it’s too hot, you’re more likely to toss and turn, which disrupts your sleep. Before you go to sleep naturally, your body produces a hormone called melatonin which causes a drop in core body temperature that is needed for sleep. If the ambient temperature is too high, this process is interrupted, so it may take longer to get to sleep.
Melatonin is important, as it regulates our natural sleep cycle and tells our body when it’s time to fall asleep. Our body starts to produce melatonin when light levels drop, and stops producing it as it gets lighter, telling us that it’s time to wake up. This is why people sleep more during winter, as the nights are longer and cooler – meaning it’s easier for your body to reach a comfortable sleeping temperature.
Is sleeping in the heat good for you?
Sleeping in hot weather, providing that your body maintains a healthy temperature, isn’t bad for you at all. The ideal temperature for sleep is about 65°F (18.3°C), give or take a few degrees. Our body temperature naturally drops a little during sleep, and a cool – but not cold – bedroom environment is ideal to have a good night’s sleep.
How to sleep better in the heat?
Luckily, there are a few simple tweaks that can help you get a good night’s sleep:
- Have a hot shower
Have a 10-minute hot shower one to two hours before bed – it works to cool you down because near the end of the day, there’s a fall in the temperature of your core, including your brain, which helps you fall and stay asleep.
- Keep the windows open
It’s one of the best ways to make sure that you’re at least getting a bit of breeze into the bedroom. In the evening when the air outside is cooler, open blinds and windows to let fresh air into the room before going to bed. Before and during sleep, keep the windows open.
- Drink plenty of water
We all know that water is an essential nutrient for the body, however when it comes to the hot weather, it’s more important than ever to stay hydrated – even during the night. So, keep a small glass of water on your bedside table.
- Keep your hands and feet out of the covers
The secret behind regulating your body temperature is keeping your body warm, but hitting core pulse points such as your head, neck, and wrists. By keeping those key areas cooler, and away from the heat of the covers, it will help lower your core temperature.
- Cool your body down
If you have AC or a fan, then you are set for the night. However, if you don’t have either of those, apply a cold flannel to your head, neck and wrists will rapidly reduce body heat by effectively cooling the blood circulating around your body, helping you to feel cooler, faster.
- Take a look at your mattress
It’s worth looking into a heat-appropriate mattress if you’re due for an upgrade anyway. Mattresses with open structured memory foam springs have been proven to make the mattress eight times more breathable than other mattresses. In general, spring and hybrid mattresses are better than foam ones, and pillows should be made from breathable materials.
- Swap your sheets
When it comes to your bed sheets, eucalyptus wood, bamboo, or silk are the best ones. When you become too hot, it can disturb your sleeping patterns and make you feel drowsy, so it’s important to pick a fabric which is body regulating.
- Keep your bedroom dark
Even though it’s tempting to throw open the curtains when it’s sunny outside, letting light into your bedroom in the mornings could make it harder for you to sleep at night. Heat transfers through the windows and can build up during the day, so it’s a good idea to keep the curtains closed.
- Sleep on your side
Sleeping on your side means your body heat can escape easily as a larger portion is exposed to the air. This should help to regulate your body temperature and make you feel more comfortable.
- Put your socks in the fridge
Cooling your feet can lower the overall temperature of your body. Try putting your socks in the fridge and then wearing them before you go to bed to keep you cool.
- Don’t sleep naked
It’s understandable to think to remove layers we feel could be making us hotter; however, sleeping naked is not the answer as sweat sticks to your skin. Try lightweight, wide-leg pyjamas or a nightdress.
- Get your workouts in early
Getting enough exercise every day is really important for our overall physical and mental health – but it can interrupt our sleep in hot weather. Staying active is a proven way to improve sleep quality. Try an early morning workout when temperatures are cooler.
- Watch what you eat
Avoid eating too late at night, as when we’re digesting food, our body temperature can increase. The same goes for any tea, coffee, or dark chocolate from lunchtime onwards.
Magnesium is relaxing, calming, and helps us fall asleep. Eat leafy green vegetables, brown rice, nuts, and seeds.