How To Sleep In Hot Weather
6 minutes read
If you’re wondering how to sleep in hot weather, you’re not alone. While for some of us, the hotter months might spell carnivals and cookouts – for others, sleeping in warm weather can spell long nights tossing and turning as the sweltering temperatures prevent us nodding off. Roughly 36% of UK adults struggle to get to sleep at least on a weekly basis, with temperature among the most common factors, alongside stress, noise and uncomfortable beds according to the NHS. When it comes to how to keep cool at night, there are things you can do to make your body more comfortable and in a better state to nod off into a peaceful slumber. Read on to find out more…
Why is it important to get a good night’s sleep even in hot weather?
It goes without saying that sleep is pretty crucial for our health, and a lack of it can have negative repercussions that can become serious over a long period of time. “If we get good quality sleep, we should go through four to five sleep cycles every night, each of which are 90-110 minutes long,” explains Heather Darwall-Smith, a psychotherapist specialising in sleep. “Each cycle has different stages, such as deep and REM sleep, all of which play essential roles in our wellbeing,” she adds.
Given how important sleep is to our general wellbeing, learning how to keep cool at night is vital when it comes to successfully sleeping in warm weather. But why exactly does the heat affect our sleep quality so much?
Why does hot weather affect sleep?
Aside from leaving us hot and bothered, it actually interrupts our body’s natural sleep mechanisms. “Core body temperature plays a significant part in us being able to fall asleep,” notes Darwall-Smith.
“Normally, our core body temperature starts to drop around 2 hours before bedtime in tandem with the sleep signalling hormone melatonin,” she explains. “As the night progresses, body temperature drops before rising again as we head towards waking.”
So if the room is still too hot come the evening, then our body will struggle to regulate our temperature to generate enough melatonin to enter ‘sleep mode’.
Not only do we then have trouble falling asleep, but the hot air can prevent us from staying asleep too. “When it’s hot, our sleep quality is affected which affects how much deep and REM sleep we get,” says Darwall-Smith. “As a result, our sleep tends to be lighter, resulting in fatigue and possible grogginess the next day.”
5 steps to get better sleep in hot weather
Not all of us are blessed with AC in every room. So below are some expert tips from Alison Jones, Sleep Expert at Sealy on how to cool yourself down at night without a fan
Sleep on your side
Those that usually sleep lying flat should try sleeping on one side when the weather is warm, as this position exposes more of your body to the air. This means heat from the body can escape more easily which, in turn, regulates body temperature to a more normal level.
Don’t ditch your PJs
When the heat feels unbearable it is understandable our first port of call is usually to remove layers that feel like they could only be making us hotter. However, sleeping naked is not the answer, as sweat can stick to your skin, making you feel uncomfortable and clammy. Lightweight, loose-fitting, wide leg pyjamas or a nightie will help to combat sweat, ultimately leaving you cooler and drier throughout the night.
Water is an essential nutrient for the human body, and during the summer months staying hydrated is key. Not only does staying properly hydrated help to lubricate the joints and cushion sensitive tissues throughout the night – it can also help you attain the drop in core body temperature that helps induce sleepiness. Alison suggests as part of your evening routine to keep a small glass of water on your bedside table.
Get your workouts in early
Staying active is a proven way to improve sleep quality, no matter the time of year. However, Alison recommends avoiding evening workouts and raising your core temperature in the run up to bedtime – instead opting for an early morning workout when temperatures are set to be cooler compared to mid-day.
Socks in the fridge? Bear with us…
If you’re at the end of your tether with the question of how to cool down in bed, you might want to try these more unusual yet effective tips, courtesy of Dr Sue Peacock, Consultant Health Psychologist. “Try putting your socks in the fridge and then wear them to bed, cooling your feet will lower your overall body temperature. You can do the same thing with pillowcases and a hot water bottle filled with cold water.”
Are fans a good option to improve sleep?
Bedroom fans can be a good option as they not only keep us cool, thereby helping us to fall and stay asleep in the hot weather, but also improve air circulation. This keeps the room well ventilated and helps us to breathe better.
Plus some find the ‘white noise’ generated by the whir of the fan to be soothing and helps block out any sudden sounds that can cause us to wake up if the room is completely quiet.
However the downsides to having a fan on at night is that the rapid air movement can zap moisture from your mouth and nasal passages, drying them out. They can also circulate dust which can worsen conditions like asthma and allergies for those who have them.
Therefore if you do have a fan on at night, it’s a good idea to keep it at a distance so it’s not blowing directly on your face. And have air filters in the room to pick up any dust that might be circulating.
How do you sleep if it’s too hot?
There are plenty of ways to keep cool in the heat so you can drift off to sleep. Make sure you swap your duvet for a bedsheet and wear light cotton pyjamas to absorb any sweat.
How can I sleep at night in hot weather?
Sleeping on your side if you don’t normally, can help your body keep cool during the night. It allows more of your body to be exposed to the air. Having a fan helps to maintain the cool temperatures and prevents the room becoming stuffy and claustrophobic by allowing air to circulate.
How can I sleep in hot weather without AC?
If you don’t have AC at your disposal, why not cool down by taking a pre-chilled hot water bottle filled with cold water to bed with you? Placing your pillow case in a cool bag before bed is another good way to beat the heat without the help of an AC unit.
Is it bad to sleep in hot temperatures?
Our body temperature needs to drop in order to generate enough melatonin to fall asleep. So it can be a struggle if the room is too hot. Even if we do manage to fall asleep, the heat might affect our sleep quality – preventing us from falling into a deep sleep so we’re tired and groggy the next day.