Summer. A picturesque time of the year, packed with outdoor pursuits, trips to the pub and firing up the barbecue. As much as we love it, summer can also throw up some challenges, especially when it comes to sleep. The extra heat can bring some irritation at night, leaving you tossing and turning into the early hours.
However, there are steps you can take to help you drift off without a hitch. Read our top tips for getting a better night’s sleep in the heat of summer.
Why is it Harder to Sleep in Summer Heat?
First, why does heat cause disruption to our sleep? At night, our body temperature drops a couple of degrees to make it easier for us to sleep. While our bodies are excellent at regulating their temperature, they can still be heavily influenced by ambient temperature.
With warmer air around us, our bodies find it harder to cool down, which makes it harder for us to fall asleep. This can also negatively impact your sleep efficiency, as higher body temperature can lead us to wake up in the middle of the night.
Tips for Better Summer Sleep
Thankfully, there are some solutions to help see you soundly off to sleep on even the hottest of nights. Here are six tips that anyone can implement for a better summer night’s rest.
1. Choose the Right Bedding and Clothing
Start by considering what you wear. Light, breathable clothing is an absolute must. Keep a lookout for the following materials – you’ll find they’re the best for sleeping in the heat:
Cotton is lightweight, soft and breathable, making it great for air circulation and avoiding skin irritation. The breathable material leaves you cool and comfortable throughout the night. It’s also one of the most common materials used for pyjamas, meaning you can get hold of some relatively cheap.
Silk is generally a more expensive material than cotton, but it can do a good job of keeping you cool at night. Silk is a versatile material that can keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. That said, the feel of silk on your skin is a divisive one – some people love it whereas others don’t.
Moisture-wicking material is one to look out for when investing in some new nightwear. Designed to draw moisture away from the skin, moisture-wicking material can draw sweat from your body – a key means to achieving a lower body temperature.
Ultimately, when it comes to night-time clothing, less is more. If you don’t mind the feeling, sleeping without any clothes is a good option. At the very least, substitute trousers and t-shirts for shorts and vests.
The same principles can be applied to your bedding. Keep a summer set of bedsheets in your drawers, keeping in mind the advice on the materials above. When those warmer nights draw in, your breathable sheets will help keep you keep cool.
2. Keep Feet and Hands out of the Bed
Quick tip here: when your body is too hot, it tries to release some of that heat via your hands and feet. To stop them from overheating, keep your limbs out from under the sheets.
3. Blackout the Windows
There’s a two-fold benefit to investing in blinds or blackout curtains for your bedroom windows. The first is light. Aside from heat, light plays a significant role in your sleep cycle. In the summer months, the sun rises earlier and sets later at night. If that sunlight makes its way into your room, it could see you waking up too early or stop you from getting to sleep at night.
Blacked out windows can also help to keep heat out of your room when the sun comes back up, helping you sleep for as long as you need each morning.
4. Invest in a Fan
In warmer climates, people tackle warm evenings by installing an air conditioning unit. In the UK, the relatively short summer season and general low level of humidity make this an unnecessary purchase. You can still get the benefits of cool, fresh air on your skin by investing in a fan. Cheap to buy and cheap to run, they’re a simple means to remaining cool in even the hottest of nights.
5. Have a Late Night Shower
Rinsing off before bed is an excellent way to bring your body temperature down – and it doesn’t have to be a cold one either. Simply washing off the day’s sweat and dirt can reduce the chance of irritation and help you feel better when you get into bed.
If you choose to have a hot shower or bath, bring the time forward a bit to feel the full effects. After you’ve rinsed off, your body temperature will initially rise only to fall again after an hour or so. As your body cools down, this gives rise to drowsiness. Try and coordinate this feeling with your bedtime.
6. Follow the Best Sleeping Practices
Just because it’s the summer doesn’t mean you should change anything about your successful sleep routine. The same principles that help you sleep in winter remain relevant come summer. Here are just a few of the best sleeping tips no matter the time of year:
Stick to a routine: When it comes to sleep, your body thrives off routine. Try to maintain your sleep cycle by going to sleep and waking up at the same time. It should help you drift off easier each night.
Switch off devices: TVs, laptops and smartphones are all too tempting when we’re stuck for something to do in bed. Electronic devices are a distraction that stop you from sleeping at night. Even after you’ve finished using them, your brain will remain active and keep you awake longer than you wish. Try hard to keep them out of the bedroom.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol: What you take in during the day can have a significant impact on your ability to sleep at night. Coffee and other caffeine-heavy beverages are an absolute no from late afternoon onwards. Despite the temptation to enjoy a beer or glass of wine at your summer barbecue, it will also have an impact on your night’s sleep. Alcohol affects sleep patterns and raises the chance of waking up in the night; avoid it as much as you possibly can.
Exercise in the day: One of the best daytime activities to help night-time sleep is exercise. Reducing stress and just generally tiring you out, the health benefits of regular exercise include better sleep at night. Just don’t leave it too late, as your body temperature will need a few hours to cool down after you’ve finished.
Sleeping in summer doesn’t have to be an ongoing struggle. Follow the steps above, and a long, relaxing night’s rest will see your love of summer continue long after the sun has gone down.