One of the most difficult times to get to sleep is during one of our seemingly rare (this year) summer heat-waves. Although the sunshine and heat is great for fun on a day out with friends and family, it’s not ideal for falling asleep. This is because our core temperature needs to drop to help signal the body that it is time for sleep.
In fact , the optimum bedroom temperature for sleep is actually quite cool at between 16 and 21 degrees Celsius and your brain actually needs to be a fraction of a degree cooler than the rest of the body. So if your bedroom, body and brain are too hot, it can mean a restless and uncomfortable night.
My Top 20 Tips
There’s no reason to miss out on a good night’s rest because you’re too hot to sleep, here are my top tips to keep you cool all night long…and they double up as holiday heat sleep tips too.
1) Put the sheet you are sleeping under in the fridge (in a plastic cover) Lying under some freshly chilled sheets can help your body get rid of any unwanted heat and helps your temperature to drop into that perfect sleep mode.
2) Fill a hot water bottle with ice water and place on the ‘cooling points’ of your body These include behind your knees or ankles, and other ‘pulse points such as wrists, neck, groin and elbows. With superficial circulation, these points can be used to reduce your body temperature in this way. A barley or buckwheat bag, after being placed in the freezer, can be similarly used. Equally, buckwheat pillows, in general, will be cooler than your normal down one. If you don’t have any of the above fill a sock with rice and put it in the freezer.
3) Replace your bedtime body moisturiser with Aloe Vera-based after sun cream, kept in the fridge for added cooling power.
4) Fill an empty perfume bottle with chilled water and keep this by your bedside, spray on your face, back of your neck and back of your knees to cool down.
5) Use cotton pyjamas and sheets
Soft and breathable, high quality cotton is the ideal bedding material to sleep between to stay cool. Sleeping with pyjamas is often cooler than going commando is, but choose which suits you.
6) Keep meals light
Large meals create metabolic heat when they are digested . Swap for smaller meals and more of them to avoid this. Avoid too much protein too as this food group also boosts your metabolic rate, and heats your body up.
7) Try spicy food
There is a reason hotter countries like India and Thailand are famous for their delicious curries. The chemical capsaicin in spicy food stimulates heat receptors in your mouth, enhancing circulation and causing sweating, which cools the body down. Be sure to eat at least 3 hours before you go to bed though, as spicy foods can also stop you sleeping well.
8) A popular Chinese remedy, chrysanthemum tea is said to have ‘cooling’ properties whilst also helping you keep a clear head and being caffeine free.
9) Exercise in the mornings out of the sun, you want to give your body as much time as possible to cool down when the days are warmer. Working out is best before the heat of the day starts to set in, around 7am if you can do it!
10) Wear loose cotton clothing, preferably light coloured, throughout the day. Cotton is lightweight and loose clothing promotes are circulation, ensuring your clothes aren’t retaining your body heat.
11) Keep your evening bath or shower tepid, which makes it easier for your body to reach the optimal sleep temperature. Leaving your hair wet can also help cool you during the night.
12) Keep windows closed and curtains drawn in the day to keep the house cooler, particularly those facing east or west. This stops your home warming up in the sun and in the evening can also help block the evening light, helping you to wind down more easily.
13) Turn off all electrical devices in the room, as these produce heat when running (this will also help you avoid those tempting, late-night social media and email check-ups!). Use natural light if you can rather than light bulbs, which emit heat.
14) Keep your feet and toes cool
Your feet and toes have many blood vessels and can help the body cool quickly if kept cool Put a hot water bottle in the freezer to create an ice pack for your feet at night. Putting your feet into a bucket of icy water before bed, or even having one beside the bed at night, to dunk your feet if you wake up can work. If you don’t want to use these techniques also try dangling your feet and toes outside of the covers.
15) Try using fans in different ways
Put a damp sheet between the fan and your bed, or use it to push the hot air out of an open window. You can also position a roasting pan full of ice in front of the fan to cool the air. Always try to keep the bedroom door open too as it allows the air to circulate. Change the rotation on ceiling fans to counter clockwise so that they pull hot air up and out, rather than spinning it around the room.
16) Putting a damp sheet in front of an open window will have a similar effect if there is any breeze, cooling the air coming into the bedroom.
17) Sleep on a damp sheet or damp towel
This is also known as the Egyptian method, as it’s used in this area of the world. Make sure you protect your mattress with a dry towel underneath.
18) Drink water regularly during the day, but not too much at night. About ½ pint before bed will be enough to keep you hydrated (if it’s very hot and you are sweating) and prevent you from having to use the bathroom regularly. Have a glass by your bed in case you wake up dehydrated.
19) Sleep in separate beds, as this will enable you both to stretch out more and prevent your combined body temperature overheating you.
20) Even try sleeping downstairs if it’s especially hot
Heat rises, and the lower rooms will be cooler.