Even with your fan blasting on full speed and your windows hanging wide open, some nights, there’s simply no way to escape the heat. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it’s more difficult to sleep in the heat. If you do fall asleep, it’s less common to experience uninterrupted sleep and to have dreams, and it’s more common to wake up feeling fatigued.
If you live in a part of the world that experiences unexpected heat waves, or just a few short weeks of warm weather, you may not be fully equipped to handle the heat when it strikes.
Restless or inadequate sleep can take a physical and mental toll, and can lead to poor performance in school and work, increased risk of developing chronic disease, difficulty achieving or maintaining a healthy weight, and irrational mood swings. Getting good sleep should always be a priority, that’s why we’ve put together a list of actions you can take to help beat the heat in the hottest months (even without A/C).
Tips To Help You Sleep In The Heat
Water helps your body regulate temperature. Drink lots of water in high heat, avoid being outdoors in the sun for long periods of time, and protect your skin from sunburn. Focus on hydrating yourself during the day, and taper off your water intake at night, this will help you maintain a healthy body temperature and stay hydrated without needing to take midnight bathroom breaks.
Get On A Sleep Schedule
Getting up and going to bed at different times every day just confuses your body. Teach your body to relax at night and wake up in the morning by putting yourself on a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Avoid naps in the afternoon and hitting the snooze button one too many times. Schedule time before bed to engage in a relaxing activity such as reading, listening to music, or stretching. This will help your body and mind relax and unwind before bed. If you have children who are on summer vacation, help them stay consistent, and gradually ease them back into their school year sleep schedule before school starts.
Take A Shower
Taking a bath or shower right before bedtime can help you relax your muscles and mind. The drop in body temperature after you get out of a shower can help your body attain its ideal temperature zone for a good night’s sleep.
Modify Your Environment
- Remove electronics. Limit screen time in the evening, and remove electronics from your room. The light from screens can confuse your body and make it harder for you to relax and go to sleep, so invest in a manual alarm clock and keep all other electronics out of reach.
- Eliminate noise. Do your best to soundproof your bedroom. If you live on a busy street or in a noisy home, consider downloading a white noise app or buying a white noise machine to help drown out the background noise.
- Invest in your sleep. If you find yourself adjusting and readjusting during the night or feeling generally uncomfortable in your bed, consider investing in a more comfortable pillow, sheet, blanket, mattress or mattress topper. Light, cotton materials can promote ventilation and moisture wick as you sleep, and advanced sleep technology now provides products with cooling materials. If it’s still light out when you go to sleep, or if ambient light interrupts your sleep, invest in blackout curtains to keep your environment dark.
- Keep it cool. Close your windows and blinds during the sunny parts of the day. Windows magnify sunrays that heat up the air in your home. Through the night or on cool days, keep your windows open to let in cool air. Avoid using the oven or stove, and turn off lights during the day to prevent electric heat from making your environment warmer.
Use Your Freezer
Put your socks and pillowcases in a plastic bag and put that bag in the freezer for a few minutes to cool them off. Although the chill won’t last the whole night, it may be enough to give you the jump-start you need to fall asleep. You can also turn a hot water bottle into a cold water bottle by putting it in the freezer before bed. If you want a quick go-to middle-of-the-night trick, leave a bowl of ice water by your bed, and dip your fingers and toes in it for quick relief in the middle of the night. The freezer has endless possibilities, so get creative and find out what works for you.
With neighbourhood BBQs, summertime parties, and summer vacations, it’s easy to find yourself indulging late at night. Consuming caffeine and nicotine can make it harder to fall asleep. Partaking in alcoholic beverages can make it harder for your body to achieve REM sleep, and going to bed with a full stomach can lead to heartburn or general discomfort.
Exercise Earlier In The Day
Exercise benefits the body in a number of ways and has been closely linked to longer duration and better quality of sleep at night. Exercise reduces stress and fatigues the body, preparing it for sleep. For some individuals, exercising late at night can overstimulate the body and disrupt sleep patterns; so many people choose to exercise first thing in the morning or several hours before bedtime to give their body time to cool off before bed.
Talk To Your Provider
If you’re having difficulty falling or staying asleep, or feel fatigued during the day, talk to your health provider. Sleep greatly affects your mental and physical health, so it’s important to advocate for yourself and stop suffering in silence.