While we wouldn't say that the UK is often blessed with sweltering temperatures, it's safe to say that when the sun does decide to come out to play, it can get hot. And while working from a sun lounger in the garden and sipping pints in your local beer garden are dreamy with a capital D, getting to sleep during hot weather isn't quite as fun.
In fact, getting to sleep during a heatwave is horrible. Because it's rarely very hot in the UK, our houses generally aren't equipped with air conditioning to ease the sweltering pain – unlike that villa you book on Airbnb every summer in Spain. The lack of air conditioning can make it hard to get good quality sleep, as you fidget all night long, shrugging off the duvet and trying desperately to avoid the sticky person next to you, if you share a bed.
So, what can you actually do to help? You've probably tried opening the windows wide, switching to lighter bedsheets or sleeping naked in a bid to get some comfort during hot nights but, actually, sleep experts don't actually recommend doing the latter.
Why shouldn't you sleep naked when it's hot?
"It can be tempting to sleep with no clothes on to keep yourself cool, but this may worsen your sleep," says Julius Patrick, Lead Sleep Physiologist at Bupa’s Cromwell Hospital. "When you sleep naked, sweat actually collects on the body and then remains there," he adds.
What should you be wearing to sleep in during a heatwave?
Patrick suggests wearing "light bedclothes" during warmer nights. "If you’re wearing light clothes to sleep in, it soaks up any sweat you have, which can cool you down," he says. So while putting on a layer might feel like the last thing you want to do when you're literally pulsating with heat, it seems it'll be for the greater good. Also, as Patrick reminds us: "However hot it is when you drift off, remember your body temperature will drop during the night."
How else can you keep your bedroom cool in summer?
The key to managing sleep during a heatwave is to keep your room as cool as possible. Patrick suggests closing the curtains or blinds in your bedroom all day to keep the sun out. "If it’s warmer inside than outside, you can also open all of the windows before you get into bed to create a breeze before you get your head down. This should bring down the room temperature slightly to make it easier to fall asleep," he suggests.
Will ditching the duvet help you to sleep better?
Patrick does advice reducing your bedding when it's hot – nobody needs a 10 tog duvet when the temperatures are soaring – but he doesn't suggest ditching it altogether. "Keep covers handy," says the sleep physiologist. "Thin cotton sheets will absorb sweat."
For a good night's sleep, Patrick also recommends taking a shower around half an hour before bed. "A quick rinse before bed can help you cool down, and it doesn’t have to be a cold shower. Some people find a hot shower or bath can help as this drops the core body temperature, helping to promote faster and deeper sleep," says Patrick.
Happy warm weather sleeping, one and all.
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