We’ve talked in previous blogs of how sleeping in a cool, dark room can be helpful when trying to overcome insomnia. Unfortunately, this can often be difficult throughout the summer months when temperatures sore and daylight hours last longer. Following some of these tips and tricks may help you beat the heat and get the high-quality sleep your body requires.
- Cooling your head and feet
The extreme ends of our bodies, our head and feet, are where we lose most of our body heat from. This is why kids are constantly told to wear a hat during cold weather, to retain heat inside the body. During hot weather we want to want to cool our bodies by drawing the heat out in order to lower our body temperature.
There are numerous ways to we can do this. Soaking your feet in cold water for ten minutes before sleeping has been found to be effective. Wetting your hair with water is another option. You can try killing two birds with one stone by taking a cool or lukewarm shower before bed. Not only does the shower lower your body temperature, but it leaves the skin moist. As that moisture evaporates, it provides a cooling effect which sends the body to sleep.
- Breathable fabrics
Nothing can trigger a sleepless night like bed sheets which trap heat and easily stick to your body. When it comes to choosing bed sheets in a summer heatwave, less is more. Avoid fabrics such as silk, as well as linen which come with high thread counts. Alternatives such as cotton and linen are less likely to trap heat.
The same can be said when it comes to choosing a pair of pyjamas. Light-colored and breathable clothing will prevent sweat from gluing you to the sheets, allowing you to catch some much-needed shut-eye.
- The “Egyptian Method”
The Egyptians know a thing or two about how to sleep despite the heat, and many of us still incorporate their tips and tricks for falling asleep into our nighttime routines. Try wetting a sheet or bath towel with cool water until it is damp (but not dripping). A dry towel or sheet can be placed underneath your body while the damp sheet is used as a blanket, helping you stay cool.
- Using air flow
If AC is not an option it can be difficult to get comfortable on a hot night. Fans are a great way of having a cool air flow throughout the room. During the summer months they are widely available from most drug stores and grocery stores. You can make the most of the cool air flow that fans provide by making a path for the air to flow. Try opening multiple windows or doors to allow for air flow movement.
Another useful trick to get the most out of your bedroom fan is to place a block of ice cubes in front of the moving fan. When the air is blown over the ice, it will provide a cooling effect, and hopefully help you fall asleep with minimal tossing and turning.
- Get low
It’s a well-known fact; hot air rises. During extreme heat the difference between a sleepless and a sleepful night could be determined by how close to the ground you are. This means avoiding elevated sleeping positions such as hammocks or the top of a bunk bed. Loft bedrooms are a no-go area, and if you live in a 2-storey house it may be worthwhile temporarily relocating to the ground floor in order to beat the heat.
- Block out the light
If the heat in summer time wasn’t enough to make falling asleep a challenge, the extra hours of daylight only make matters worse. At this time of the year in Canada, the sun rises at approximately 6:30am before setting at 10pm. The extended presence of sunlight results in a delay to our body receiving the sleep-inducing signals we typically rely on to fall asleep. Combine this with the disruption created by sunlight creeping in through the curtains early in the morning, and the effects can be disastrous on a sleep schedule.
Luckily, there’s an easy solution to this problem. Blackout curtains can be hung, making it impossible for any sunlight to disrupt your sleep. If that’s too much of a commitment, eye masks are readily available in most drug stores at affordable prices.
- Adjust your diet
It may sound like common sense, but if you’re struggling to keep cool during the summer months, there are certain foods and meals you should be avoiding. We can probably all agree that summer is not the season for roast dinners or overly spicy dishes. Room-temperature dishes such as salads made from vegetables, fruits and nuts are ideal. Noodles are a great addition to a salad for a change in texture. Aside from tasting great, not using the oven will go a long way in keeping your home cool.
- Solo sleep
While a snuggle buddy is ideal during the winter months, sharing a bed during the summer will inevitably lead to the transfer of unwanted body heat. Sleeping alone will provide the space you need to spread out and stay cool. If you want to get technical, the spread eagle position is best for staying cool as each of your arms and legs stay far apart from each other, allowing the air to circulate.
- Cool your pulse points
Reducing your overall body temperature has been proven to help induce sleep and there are a variety of ways this can be done. If a cold shower sounds like too much for late at night, try applying ice packs, cool compresses or cold water to your pulse point areas. The wrist and neck are the most obvious pulse points, but don’t be afraid to also try the insides of your elbows and knees. The ice or cold water will chill the body’s blood vessels, lowering overall body temperature.
- Stay Hydrated
Once you finally find the right tricks to help fall asleep, it’s important to sufficiently fuel your body to get the maximum possible benefits from that sleep. Staying hydrated is essential at all times, but many of us may neglect the importance of drinking water before sleep. The average person tosses and turns approximately 37-40 times per night. When this is combined with the extra sweating we do on a hot night, the need for drinking water before sleeping is obvious.
If you’ve been struggling to sleep in the hot weather, take your pick from the list of tips above. Be sure to bookmark for next summer if you’ve found them helpful!