Sleep expert shares 6 tips for sleeping in the heat
Author: Dr. Hana Patel
The UK’s first mini heatwave of 2023 is expected next week with temperatures set to hit 20°C1 so we’re in for yet another stifling summer. Aside from enjoying ice lollies and days spent basking in the sunshine, the heat can wreak havoc on our sleep routines as we battle sweaty sheets.
As well as providing an uncomfortable night’s sleep, the heat was found to be the second most popular reason for couples resorting to sleep divorce in a study carried out by Time4Sleep, with over a third (34%) opting to sleep separately from their partner.
To help you feel rested during a summertime snooze, Dr Hana Patel, resident sleep expert at Time4Sleep shares her 6 top tips to keep cool.
Sharing how temperature impacts sleep, Dr Patel comments: “One of the main factors that can affect sleep is room temperature - whether you’re too hot or too cold.
“Even being slightly outside of the key temperature range of 15-23°C can make us more likely to wake up during the night and therefore reduce the amount of REM and slow-wave sleep we have, leaving us feeling fatigued.”
1. ‘Mute’ all distractions
Dr Patel adds: “As the weather continues to get warmer it’s natural for us to feel more agitated, especially when it comes to trying to relax and eventually fall asleep.
“With this in mind, I would recommend ‘muting’ all possible sleep distractions before trying alternative heat-beating hacks. This may be fitting blackout blinds to make sure you aren’t waking up too early to investing in a white noise machine to avoid the distraction of outside noise, you may even want to opt for earplugs if you’re a particularly light sleeper.”
2. Avoid ‘sweat-producing’ food
Dr Patel says: “Avoid particularly spicy, oily and fried foods as these can make you sweat more and interfere with your digestion.
“You should also keep lighter pre-bedtime snacks in mind as heavy meals can cause symptoms of insomnia and therefore impact the quality and length of sleep you can achieve.”
3. Find your natural sleeping hours
Dr Patel advises: “It may feel natural to try and wake up earlier or go to bed later to beat the heat but it’s important to find your natural sleeping hours during summer and make changes to your sleep schedule around this.
“Let yourself wake up naturally as much as possible and if this is being impacted by external factors like heat or light you can make simple adjustments to get your sleep back on track.”
4. Invest in temperature-regulating bedding
Dr Patel notes: “Switch to lighter bedding and do this in the final weeks of April. This will give you time to get comfortable with regulating your temperature ahead of any particularly hot periods in the peak of summer.
“You may want to test the benefits of a lighter tog duvet from 4.5-7 togs or even just a breathable flat cotton sheet. Consider a temperature-regulating mattress if you’ve found yourself to be consistently uncomfortable with sleep over the last few summer seasons.”
5. Put a cold hot water bottle in your bed an hour before sleep
Dr Patel comments: “Rather than freezing a hot water bottle with cold water, as this could damage the hot water bottle material, fill it with very cold water and leave this in the bed for an hour before you go to sleep.
“Before drifting off be sure to remove the cold hot water bottle from the bed as contact with skin is likely to cause discomfort and at very low temperatures, possible skin damage.”
6. Freeze your sheets for 30 minutes
Dr Patel says: “You can try freezing your sheets to enjoy a cold snap as you get into bed but make sure you pop them into a resealable plastic bag to avoid the sheet becoming wet.
“It should only take around half an hour in the freezer for your sheets to reach a comfortable cool temperature as you want to be sure you don’t actually freeze them!”