The UK is in full heatwave mode and everything is feeling positively Mediterranean. However, one of the few problems with this glorious sunshine is the issue of sleeping. It's just not very easy to sleep in the heat. Especially in the UK, where we're often far from prepared when it comes to hot weather. So if you're finding yourself tossing and turning, and growing ever more frustrated as you try to get some much needed shut-eye, here is how to sleep better in the heat.
If anyone's an expert in how to get some decent sleep, it is very likely to be people who are in the business of mattresses. And the mattress brand Tempur has released some insider information. "High temperatures and still air at night can be torturous when we’re trying to get to sleep," Tobin James, Tempur UK managing director, says. "It’s important to prepare and condition the sleeping environment as well as make adjustments to our lifestyle or routines in order to beat the heat."
According to sleep expert Dr. Alex Bartle, and the person behind the Sleep Well Clinic, it is all down to melatonin — which is the hormone that regulates sleep. Speaking to Stuff website, he explained it does this by dropping your core body temperature, and is usually produced between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. However, this process is halted when your body temperature is too high. Sleep-Wake Research Centre fellow Karyn O'Keefe added that "when it is too hot, it is difficult for us to cool our bodies which can interrupt the relaxation process and make it difficult for us to fall asleep."
So if you don't want your melatonin production to get more sleep than you do, try these top tips.
1. Cotton Sheets & Nightwear
One of Tempur's top tips is cotton sheets and sleepwear, because the material isn't so heavy and so should keep you cool. "Cotton is lightweight, more breathable, and will absorb moisture to stop us waking feeling sweaty and sticky, ensuring a more comfortable slumber," Tempur advises.
2. Take A Cool Shower
Tempur also suggest starting the night off cool, saying taking a cold shower and going to bed with your hair damp might be a good way to combat the hot weather — while also preventing that clammy, sticky feeling, too. However, they recommend covering your pillow with a towel, so you don't ruin your pillow cover.
3. Cooling Your Room
The website Greatist has some hot tips on getting cool, and advises popping your pillowcases in the fridge or freezer ahead of sleeping, or even using a frozen hot water bottle to beat the heat. "This won’t keep you cool all night," Greatist admits, "but it will provide a brief respite from heat and humidity."
4. Switch Off & Unplug
Tempur also recommends turning off all your devices, and switching off the lights. This will not only cool your room, as electronics all give off heat, but, according to Tempur, "you’ll also improve the quality of your rest having removed all that stimulating blue light". Sounds very sensible, indeed.
5. Eat A Lighter Meal In The Evening
Eating a lighter meal helps keep you cool, as your body will release less "metabolic heat", which according to Medical Dictionary, can increase your general body temperature. By eating lighter, you will have less food to metabolise, and so less heat.
6. Spritz Yourself
The Independent suggests filling an old perfume bottle with chilled water, and giving yourself a good old spritz should you need cooling down. "Spray on your face, back of your neck, and back of your knees to cool down," the newspaper suggests.
7. Hang A Damp Sheet
The website Greatist offers a very novel solution: hanging a wet sheet in front of your window. "The breeze blowing in will quickly bring down the room’s temperature," the site says, though they don't go into the mechanics of hanging the flipping thing up in the first place.
So will you opt for damp sheets hanging in front of your window or salad for tea? I think I'll probably just stick with a quiet fan.