Recently the UK has been sweating as temperatures have topped 34°C as a heat wave has swept the nation.
The hot weather is great news for balmy days in the sunshine, but terrible news for those who struggled to sleep in the heat.
We’ve all been there. Rolling around in sticky sheets, flipping your pillow every four minutes, desperately hoping a breeze is going to find its way through your window.
Every year, on the rare days where the temperature skirts 30 degrees, we all basically develop hot weather insomnia. And it’s even worse if you share a bed.
No amount of pillow-flipping or duvet-turning can counter the additional heat that comes from another human body – but if you don’t want to opt for separate beds (or don’t have an additional sleeping space), there are things you can try
‘Double the bodies means double the heat,’ says Dr Lindsay Browning, psychologist, neuroscientist and sleep expert at And So To Bed.
Here are Dr Browning’s top tips for better sleep in the heat if you share a bed:
Take a cool shower
‘Right before you both go to bed, reduce your body temperature by having a cool shower,’ says Dr Browning. ‘Your body temperature needs to drop when you go to sleep, giving it a helping hand by cooling off in a cool shower should help you get to sleep faster.
She adds that the shower should be cool or lukewarm.
‘If it is too cold you might wake yourself up, and if too hot you might struggle to cool down in time to sleep,’ she explains.
Ditch your duvet
‘A no-brainer, but two bodies under a duvet is going to create an oven-like effect,’ says Dr Browning.
‘However, if you are someone that needs to sleep under the covers at night opt for a straight cotton bedsheet or quilt cotton cover- and if there are two of you, have one each. This will ensure moisture wicks away from each individual and bed-sharers don’t end up sticking to each other.’
We know this is how the monsters get you, but sleeping with your feet outside of the covers can help as well.
‘We lose heat from our head and feet, by covering them you are trapping the heat. Set those toes free and feel cooler as a result,’ Dr Browning adds.
Sorry lovers, if the heat is really too much you may have to sleep apart.
‘The good news is that heat rises, so the person banished to the sofa for the sweaty evening is likely to have a cooler night’s sleep,’ says Dr Browning.
‘If your sofa is made of a synthetic material, like velvet or a heavy material like leather, make sure you put a cotton sheet over it to protect the surface from sweat and to ensure you are as cool as possible.
‘If you both want to sleep downstairs due to it being cooler, take it in turns with or invest in a blow up bed and decide who gets to sleep on that and who gets the sofa.’
Freeze hot water bottles
Dr Browning says a genius hack for hot nights is to prep your bed with frozen hot water bottles.
‘About 10 minutes before you plan to go to bed, or while you brush your teeth and take your cold shower, place the frozen hot water bottles in your bed,’ she says.
‘This will cool your sheets and covers, make sure you remove them from the bed before sleeping as bare skin contact with the hot water bottles while frozen could cause ice burn.’
Other tips for sleeping in the heat
Opt for natural fibers
Whether you are someone that likes to sleep in cozy PJs or in the nude it is important that if you want to stay cool you should stick to natural fibers such as cotton.
Cotton pajamas are great for the heat because they can help to wick away moisture- such as sweat- this helps lower your temperature because the vapor is free to transfer through the fibre, lowering the humidity between the fabric and the body, which provides you with a cool feeling.
If you do prefer to sleep in your birthday suit (naked) this can also help keep you cool, but only if your bedsheets are made of natural, rather than man made, fibres. For example, polyester fabrics do not absorb sweat, which can make for a moist and clammy uncomfortable night.
Keep the room dark during the day
Although not practical if you are working from home in a make-do bedroom office, keeping the curtains shut during the day will stop the sun from heating up the room, the sun beaming on the windows creates a greenhouse effect, keeping them closed means that when bedtime comes around the room is a lot cooler than what it would be otherwise.
Frozen water bottle in front of a fan
In the midst of hot weather, a fan only seems to push around the warm air. To make the fan more effective, put a large bottle of water (1.5l or 2l plastic bottle) in the freezer until completely frozen.
When bedtime rolls around, place the frozen water bottle in front of the fan. This will cool the air the fan is blowing, making the room more comfortable during those unbearably hot nights.
Open the windows overnight
Generally, when it is really hot outside it is a good idea to keep windows closed during the daytime, as you don’t want the hot external air to come into the house, warming it up.
However, after the sun goes down, the outside air will start to cool down.
At this point, it is a great idea to open the windows to let in a breeze of cool external air into the bedroom, helping cool the room and providing needed air circulation.
If you live by a noisy street this may not be advantageous as the noise may make it hard to sleep, but as long as you don’t live next door to a barking dog or a train station, it’s worth a try.
Use a water spray
If you have a clean water spray gun or mister (like the kind you use to spray plants or when ironing), you could gently spray your covers, mattress and pillow with a light mist of water. This will help keep your covers cool.
You could also keep the spray by your bed and use it as a cooling spray for your face, neck and wrists during the night when you get too hot.
Don’t forget to stay internally hydrated too by drinking plenty of water and keeping a cool bottle of water by the bed.
Get to the ground
The higher up you are, the hotter you will feel.
If there is a way to sleep lower to the ground, then embrace it! Even if it means laying a duvet onto the floor.
Ditch the electricals
Due to fire safety and energy costs, you should be doing this anyway, but just in case, make sure you turn every electrical socket off that you realistically can.
Each one will be creating more heat in your home. It sounds obvious but sleep with the lights off too as light bulbs also generate a surprising amount of heat.
If you factor in bulbs and heated plugs, you’d be amazed by how unnecessarily hot your rooms can be.
Dr Lindsay Browning, And So To Bed
Chill your sheets
A very effective summer sleep hack for partners sharing a bed is to chill your sheets and pillowcases.
A few hours before bedtime, simply pop your sheets and pillowcases into a bag and the bag into your freezer to chill them enough and then lay them onto your bed right before bedtime. This will help both of you to fall asleep faster.
Think about what you’re wearing
If you cannot sleep without feeling the warmth of your partner’s body next to you, make sure you and they are wearing your thinnest cotton pajamas or just an old, worn-out tee shirt even.
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