Heatwave season is upon us, and though the worst is reportedly over, there’s no telling how many more humid nights we have to look forward to. British summertime comes with its perks to morale, no doubt, but evening’s spent sweating under sheets are rarely conducive to quality sleep.
Optimal room temperature for restful shuteye is between 16 and 18°C, not often achievable without air conditioning. There are, however, some tried and tested ways to cool down and switch off.
Sleep specialist Dr Katharina Lederle has come across a number of these methods through her research. Here, we’ve tapped her expertise for some useful tips to secure good sleep in the heat. Heed her tips to rest easy when it isn’t breezy.
- Stop worrying. Sleep anxiety could well be the biggest factor in not being able to fall asleep in hot weather. Go to bed fearing a stuffy night ahead and you’ll likely be hindering your chances of nodding off even more. Stress often disturbs sleep and keep you in a hyper-aroused state. Remember that sleep in the heat can be tricky, but it’s not impossible – people in the Mediterranean do it all the time!
- Keep your curtains and windows shut during the day. Open them in the evening before bed to see if you can engender a breeze. Otherwise, you might want to invest in a fan.
- Stay hydrated consistently throughout the day and in the evening. Don’t forget, the same rule applies to your pets, too.
- Avoid alcohol. A chilled glass of wine or a pint at your local beer garden is tempting on a summer evening, but alcohol has been shown to contribute to poor sleep at night, so if you’re having real trouble getting to sleep, it’s best to exercise abstinence. The same applies to spicy or heavy food.
- Use thin sheets instead of duvets, and wear thin bedclothes. Some people shower in their pyjamas before going to bed; others put them in a plastic bag and pop them in the freezer to cool down. Cooling of the neck and back are also helpful for improving sleep.
“Remember, what works for one person might not help the next,” Dr Lederle advises. “The key is to experiment to discover what works best for you.”
Dr Katharina Lederle has a PhD in Human Circadian Physiology & Behaviour from the University of Surrey. Through her work with Clockwork Research, she has advised national and international airlines and emergency helicopter services on sleep and fatigue, and also provides sleep consultancy to a number of businesses. She is a co-founder of Somnia and author of “Sleep Sense: Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Health”
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