How to get to sleep in hot weather

Francis Blagburn
Keeping a cool head: sleep can be hard to come by during hot summer nights - E+

People in sunny climes install air conditioning systems, tiled flooring and shutters to keep their dwellings cool during summer. Here in Blightly, however, things aren't so perma-chilled. As you may notice over the coming 48 hours, our homes are well insulated and packed with sweat-inducing soft furnishings.

This isn't much of a problem during a warm day when our main priority is finding the nearest patch of grass to lie on, but it's a real issue when we're after a good night's kip.

Nick Littlehales, a sleep coach to some of the world's biggest sports stars, says the main reason we struggle to sleep in the heat as that we're simply not used to it. 

"The natural circadian rhythms of the day—the sun up and sun down process—is about moving from a normal body temperature to a cooler environment as the sun disappears", he explains. "When you're exposed to heat throughout the day and into the late evenings, that warm temperature is counter-intuitive to going into sleep."

How to get to sleep: eight surprising tricks and tips

In order to help alleviate this affect, we should try and keep cool but not cold. Here are Littlehales' top tips for doing just that during a sunny spell.

Keep windows closed

"Opening the windows and letting the hot air in is a real no-no that a lot of people do. You should keep curtains and windows closed, because all you're doing is letting hot air and the sun in. You need to protect the bedroom in particular, and make it as dark as possible."

Place ice in front of a fan

 "I knew one athlete who would put two litre bottles of water in the freezer, put them in a bowl in front of a fan and let the fan blow over the cold bottles. It seemed to work for him!"

Use a hot water bottle (yes, really)

"It's not a hot water bottle, it's simply something to hold liquid. Put freezing cold water in your hot water bottle and put it inside the bed."

Keep your pillow cool

"A lot of body temperature comes from head temperature, so a cool pillow can help. Shoving your pillow in the freezer works!

"Freezer blocks you would use to keep a cooler bag cool during a picnic can be handy too. Put them in a bag and inside the pillowcase, on the underside."

Ditch the duvet

"Don't try and sleep under a duvet; use a sheet. If you sleep naked, you'll be better off using a thin sheet of cotton as a layer than just being completely naked, as it will help control your body temperature."

Have a shower

"In the process of pre-sleep, take a cool shower to get the body temperature down."

Avoid alcohol

"If you're drinking lots of iced liquids, that can turn into a glass of wine or a beer. That seems to be okay when it's the summer, but having alcohol in the system will over-exaggerate the situation when it's hot."

Stick to a light meal

"Anything carbohydrate-heavy will continue to be digested by the body, which creates internal temperature. Heavy meals are out; keep it light with salads, fruit and similar foods."

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