Heatwave insomnia: 32 tips and tricks to help you sleep during hot weather

Woman in bed looking sweaty in the hot weather (Getty Images)
Our expert-backed tips and tricks for sleeping in the hot weather should help you get a good night's kip. (Getty Images)

With parts of the UK experiencing some late summer sun this week, many Brits are enjoying al fresco drinks and balmy evening BBQs. If only hot weather didn't make it so hard to sleep.

As most UK homes aren't equipped with air con, and sleeping with the fan on isn't the best idea for our health, we're left tossing and turning all night long, waking up groggy (read: grumpy) the next day.

Thankfully, there are some simple tricks you can use to slumber soundly in the heat.

How to sleep better during hot weather

PUtting sheets and PJs in the freezer can help. (Getty Images)
Putting sheets and PJs in the freezer can help. (Getty Images)

1. Freeze your hot water bottle

This will create guaranteed cold spots in your bed to help cool you down.

2. Put your sheets/PJs in the freezer

Place them in an air-tight bag first though. If you don’t have much room in your freezer, even putting your pillowcase in will help.

3. Unplug your tech

Plugged in devices and lightbulbs emit heat, pushing up the overall temperature of a room.

4. Take a pre-bed shower

The Sleep Charity recommends taking a cool shower or bath before bed to help "lower your core body temperature".

Man showering. (Getty Images)
It might be time to turn into a shower-before-bed type of person. (Getty Images)

5. Don’t open the curtains or windows all day

Keep windows closed when the room is cooler than the outside temperature, but open at night when the temperature drops. You can close curtains in rooms that face the sun, but only if they're lighter shade ones as dark ones can make it hotter inside.

6. Create a through-draft

Do this by opening windows and doors in different rooms and wedging doors open.

7. Switch to a summer duvet

Swap your heavy duvet for one with a lighter tog-rating, a 4.5 tog duvet is ideal for hotter weather. If you’re still kicking it off, strip the bedding back to just a sheet.

8. Don’t sleep naked

While it may seem tempting to sleep naked, this could actually make you more uncomfortable. Choose lightweight PJs instead. "Loose-fitting, cotton nightwear is naturally breathable and cooling," explains Suzy Reading, Tempur sleep expert and psychologist. "But avoid man-made products like nylon and polyester."

9. Sleep with wet hair

After your pre-bed shower, leave your hair damp to keep you cooler for longer.

A cooling spritz can help us sleep. (Getty Images)
A cooling spritz can help us sleep. (Getty Images)

10. Move downstairs at night (if you live in a multi-storey home)

Heat rises, so on unbearably hot nights, consider moving downstairs to sleep, if you can.

11. Sleep alone

It may sound ruthless, but you stand a better chance of keeping cool if you have the bed to yourself. Two bodies mean twice the body heat.

12. Soak your feet in cold water for 10 minutes before bed

Putting your feet in cool water can cool the entire body because of the easy access to circulation in your feet.

13. Use cotton or linen sheets

Similarly to your PJs, bedding should be made of cotton or linen, and not man-made products if possible.

14. Avoid sun during the day

The hottest times of day are between 11am and 3pm so try to avoid direct sunlight during this period where possible.

15. Go alcohol-free

As this is dehydrating and has been proven to interfere with deep sleep.

16. Try to avoid using the oven to keep household temperatures down

Instead stick to salad which has a higher water content and will help keep you hydrated.

17. Eat a light dinner that’s easy to digest

"Our bodies use more energy to digest a large, rich or heavy dinner, which means we produce more metabolic heat," explains Reading. Stick to lean proteins such as chicken and fish to help keep your body temperature consistent.

18. Freeze bottles of water to keep beside your bed

A cold drink of water in the night will help keep you hydrated and cool you down.

19. Open the hatch to your loft

If you have an attic or loft, open the hatch to it. This will give the hot air in the house somewhere to escape to and will bring down the room temperature in the bedrooms.

20. Chill your socks in the fridge/freezer

If you like to sleep in socks, the Sleep Charity recommends cooling them in the fridge first. "Cooling your feet lowers the overall temperature of your skin and body," it advises.

21. Sleep on a cooling mattress pad

A cooling mattress topper can help to regulate your bed’s temperature for a better, and less sweaty, night’s sleep.

Applying aloe vera
Aloe vera both soothers and cools your skin. (Getty Images)

22. Use aloe vera gel to cool your skin

Slather on your skin for an instant cool-down effect and up the ante by putting it in the fridge. As a bonus, aloe vera is an excellent aid for sunburn.

23. Keep a cooling spray beside the bed

If you tend to wake up hot and bothered in the night, Reading suggests cooling a facial mist or hydration spray in the fridge before bedtime and keep it next to your bed for instant relief.

24. Sleep on your side

This sleep position actually exposes a larger portion of your body to the air, letting the heat from your body escape and regulating your body temperature to more comfortable levels.

25. Make your own cold air

Reading suggests putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan to help generate some cold air. "Rather than moving existing warm air around the room, the ice will cool the air circulated by the fan, working to cool your room down," she explains. But remember not to keep it on all night.

26. Up your water intake

We should have six-eight glasses of fluid a day normally, and more in hot temperatures. Improve hydration levels further by eating more cucumber, melon, strawberries and salad leaves.

27. Breathe yourself cooler

Sitali breathing is a soothing yoga breathing practice and a way to make cool air yourself. "On inhalation only, curl up your tongue like a straw and sip in your breath through your tongue, the air will feel very cool," suggests Reading. "Then close your mouth and exhale slowly through your nose."

28. Put your feet out of the covers

There’s a reason we put our feet out of the covers when we’re hot, as we lose most heat through our extremities.

Cool flannels can lower body temperature. (Getty Images)
Cool flannels can help lower your body temperature. (Getty Images)

29. Get outside during the day

The more light you’re exposed to in the daytime, the more your body will desensitise itself to the effects of light at night, which in turn will help you sleep.

30. Drink something hot

According to experts, drinking something hot can actually help you to regulate your body temperature when it’s warm. Hot drinks do initially make you hotter, but they then cause your body to sweat more, releasing heat from the skin’s surface and reducing your overall body heat storage. Just beware of caffeine in tea and coffee.

31. Sleep with a cool flannel on your forehead

The secret behind body temperature at night is keeping your body warm but your head cool, according to Silentnight’s sleep expert Dr Ramlakhan, hence sleeping with a cold flannel on your head. Place it while wet in the fridge before you go to bed, and rest it on your forehead as you drift off.

32. Try a menthol rub

"If you wake up in the night, rub a menthol stick on your forehead to help cool down," suggests Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, Silentnight’s sleep expert.