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If there’s something we can be certain of in the UK this summer – it’s that the weather is going to be unpredictable. But if we remain optimistic that we’re going to see at least a few sunny spells, it’s always good knowing how to keep cool when the heatwaves arrive.
According to research carried out by the Sleep Council your bedroom temperature should be between 18-21 degrees Celsius, because your body’s temperature drops as you get drowsy and start to fall asleep. During the summer months, this can prove especially difficult for anyone without air-conditioning, so you may find yourself lying awake, tossing and turning in the sheets, as the heat prevents your body from cooling down.
With this in mind, here are 7 sleep tips for the warmer weather.
1. Keep the house cool
Everybody’s natural inclination when the weather gets too hot is to open windows – if it’s hotter outside than inside, this might not be the best idea. The NHS suggest to keep windows closed and use curtains to keep it cooler inside during the day. Once the outside temperature drops in an evening, you can open the windows for some fresh air.
2. Fight heat with heat
This may sound strange, but SleepRate suggests that having a hot shower or bath may actually help you sleep better in hot weather. As you step out of the shower, your body experiences a drop in temperature and sets itself into sleep mode. Also, while you’d probably snuggle up to your partner when you are cold to warm up, you might not think it’s a great idea when it’s hot. However, having a quick cuddle can help manipulate your body heat…so try snuggling up to your partner in the middle of the bed for a few minutes before you move back to the cooler side of the bed.
3. Have a light, early dinner
Maybe finish that barbecue a little earlier – the exercise physiologist and personal trainer Bob Greene recommends that you don’t eat food or consume alcohol for at least 2 hours before going to bed. Going to bed with a full stomach means your body will be busy digesting food, which in turn creates body heat. To help you stay cooler and hydrated, TIME recommends to eat fruits and vegetables as these are rich in water and can be digested quicker. If you like spicy foods, you are in luck. This is a good option as well, as the spiciness can lead to sweating, which has a cooling effect on the skin.
4. Cotton is your best friend
Duvet, sheet or no blanket at all? When it’s hot you probably feel like the duvet is a tad too much, but falling asleep without a blanket can be a struggle for some, so a simple cotton sheet might just be the answer. The material is soft, lightweight and breathable, making it the ideal companion for a hot summer night. Add a pair of light cotton pyjamas and you are all set for the night. While it’s a little tongue in cheek, you could also consider sleeping naked as suggested by Sleep.org, as this could help you keep a lower body temperature.
5. Cold water bottle
A hot water bottle isn’t just for winter! If you are in need of a cool down, simply repurpose your hot water bottle and fill it up with ice-cold water.
6. Create a fresh breeze
Having air conditioning in the house is quite uncommon in the UK, presumably because the British weather doesn’t often require one. But with a little improvisation, it’s possible to create a fresh breeze in your bedroom when needed. Simply organise yourself a pan or bowl from the kitchen, fill it up with ice cubes and place it in front of a fan. As the ice starts to melt the breeze will pick up water and spread a cooling mist.
7. Stick to your schedule
Season and weather changes can have a big impact on our sleep pattern, especially during the summer when the sun and longer daylight hours tempt us to go out more often. We can end up going to bed at irregular hours, which inevitably affects our body clock. So, whilst having a routine and going to bed at a set bed time doesn’t help you keep cool, it will help you fall asleep more easily and enhance your sleep quality.