Getting to sleep in a heatwave is not easy. Actually, it's horrible. It's rarely very hot in the UK, which is why our houses generally don't come equipped with air conditioning to ease the sweltering pain, like a holiday villa often would. That can make it hard to get good quality sleep, as you fidget all night long, shrugging off the duvet and trying desperately to avoid the sticky person next to you if you share a bed.
You've probably tried opening the windows wide, switching to lighter bedsheets, or sleeping naked in a bid to get some comfort during hot nights, but it seems sleep experts don't actually recommend doing the latter. It turns out sleeping naked isn't generally advisable during a heatwave, and Julius Patrick, Lead Sleep Physiologist at Bupa’s Cromwell Hospital explains why that is.
"It can be tempting to sleep with no clothes on to keep yourself cool, but this may worsen your sleep," the sleep expert says. "When you sleep naked, sweat actually collects on the body and then remains there. However hot it is when you drift off, remember your body temperature will drop during the night," Patrick advises. Instead, the expert suggests wearing "light bedclothes" during warmer nights.
"If you’re wearing light clothes to sleep in, it soaks up any sweat you have, which can cool you down," he says. So while putting on a layer might feel like the last thing you want to do when you're literally pulsating with heat, it seems it'll be for the greater good.
Other methods of managing sleep during a heatwave, according to Patrick, include closing the curtains or blinds in your bedroom all day, to keep the sun out. "If it’s warmer inside than outside, open all of the windows before you get in bed, to get a breeze before you get your head down. This should bring down the room temperature slightly to make it easier to fall asleep when you get in bed," he suggests.
The expert does advice reducing your bedding when it's hot - nobody needs a 10 tog duvet on top of them when the temperatures are soaring - but he doesn't suggest ditching them all together. "Keep covers handy," says Patrick. "Thin cotton sheets will absorb sweat."
The Sleep Physiologist also recommends taking a shower around half an hour before bed as another means of getting a good night's sleep.
"A quick rinse before bed can help you cool down, and it doesn’t have to be a cold shower. Some people find a hot shower or bath can help as this drops the core body temperature, helping to promote faster and deeper sleep," says Patrick.
Happy heatwave sleeping, one and all.
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