Struggling to get a good night's sleep as the temperatures climb? Try these seven tips to increase your chances of getting some quality rest
As I write this, the early signs of summer are creeping in through my window. The trees are in full leaf, flowers are blooming and the temperature is teetering at 20 degrees.
Whilst summer is a welcome change in the seasons for many of us after a cold, dark winter, there is one thing that I think we collectively struggle with when it gets hot — getting a good night’s sleep.
So, what can we do to prepare ourselves to sleep more soundly as it warms up, and why is getting a good night’s rest so important?
Why is sleep important for our wellbeing?
Sleep is crucial to maintaining good physical and mental health. Its main function is to allow the brain time to rest and recharge. Whilst we all need different amounts of sleep to meet our baseline needs, what’s just as important is the quality of the rest we’re getting. So, if you’re tossing and turning on a warm summer’s night, the chances are that you won't feel quite so refreshed in the morning.
There are many reasons why getting good quality sleep is important:
- Improves cognitive function. As we sleep, our brains process information which helps improve our cognitive skills, like learning and memory.
- Improved focus. Poor sleep, or a lack of it, has been shown to have a negative effect on focus, concentration and productivity.
- Supports immunity. Studies suggest that getting at least seven hours of sleep a night can help improve immune function, meaning we’re better able to fight off illnesses like the common cold.
- It helps regulate emotions. The more tired we are, the harder it can be to regulate and control our emotions. This may lead to people experiencing emotional outbursts.
Sleep hygiene refers to the lifestyle and environmental factors that affect how we sleep. This includes eating habits, exercise and our bedroom environment, such as too much light.
How can we improve our quality of sleep in hot weather?
As the weather begins to warm up, here are some things you can do to beat the heat and improve your chances of getting a better night’s sleep:
1. Keep your room cool
Try to keep your room as cool as possible during the day and just before going to bed. Draw the curtains to prevent the sun from heating up your room and, whilst it may seem like a good idea to keep windows open, closing them actually stops the warm air from entering your home. Right before going to bed, open up the windows on both sides of your home to create a lovely through-breeze.
2. Turn off electronics
Sleep quality can be affected by our environment, including the amount of light that enters the room. It’s known that devices like TVs and phones emit blue light, which suppresses the release of melatonin (the sleep hormone). But these devices also produce excess heat, which we definitely don’t need when it’s already hot outside. It’s recommended to turn them off at least one hour before going to bed.
3. Use breathable fabrics
Lightweight, breathable bed sheets and pyjamas, such as linen or cotton, prevent too much heat from being trapped underneath you as you sleep and help the heat to dissipate more easily. Ditching fabrics like polyester and silk will help you feel more comfortable and increase your chances of getting a good night's shut-eye.
4. Take a warm shower
“A warm shower?” I hear you ask. Go with me here. This might seem counterintuitive but, in order for the body to lose heat, we need our blood to rise closer to the surface of the skin. This allows the heat to radiate out. Having a tepid shower just before bed increases the blood flow to the skin's surface, aiding the body’s natural ability to lose heat.
5. Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of water throughout the day but be cautious of drinking too much right before bed. This can lead to frequent trips to the bathroom and a disturbed night's sleep! Try to avoid consuming alcohol or soft drinks as these contain caffeine which can actually increase the risk of dehydration.
6. Avoid daytime naps
Warm temperatures can make us feel more lethargic, and it may be tempting to have a quick afternoon nap. However, the more tired you are when you go to bed, the more likely you are to sleep through the night, even when it’s hot. So, try to avoid taking naps where possible.
7. Make use of the freezer
Another great tip is to freeze bedding, a hot water bottle or even a pair of socks! Don’t leave them in the freezer too long — you just want them to be cool enough to help you drift off.