How to beat the heat: 10 ways to stay cool at night
by Harry • 8 minutes read
Last updated: 21 Jul, 2022
The UK has just witnessed the hottest day in recorded history - with the highest temperature being 40.3 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Coningsby, Lincolnshire on the 19th of July. This is a significant jump from the previous high of 38.7C, recorded in Cambridge back in 2019.
This July marks the first time in history that the UK has recorded temperatures over 40 degrees, with weather warnings issued to residents all over the country, encouraging people to stay indoors and drink plenty of water. But, the heat wave hasn't just been an issue in daylight: the summer night temperatures are sitting well above 20 degrees at the moment, with some places experiencing lows of 25C as people tried to get some shut-eye.
Now, we can happily sit in air-conditioned offices and drink pints upon pints of water during the day, but staying cool after the sun sets is just as important. Though it may seem difficult to stay comfortable in weather hotter than Jamaica, these tips and tricks should help you get a good night's sleep, despite the extreme heat.
Much of the information provided here, comes from the World Health Organisation's tips to staying cool during a heat wave.
One of the easiest, most consistent ways to avoid the horrible sweaty and sticky feeling of sleeping in extreme heat, is to shower right before you go to bed.
It doesn't necessarily need to be a cold shower (though there is no harm in one when temperatures are through the roof), it can simply be a lukewarm or even a regular shower. You'll come out feeling refreshed, clean and rid of the sweat your body built up during the hot day.
If you're not a fan of cold showers, you could have a hot shower or bath instead. It may seem counterintuitive, but even these can help you cool down before bed. While you may feel warmer in the shower itself, you're actually increasing vasodilation which helps deliver blood to your extremities like the hands and feet. This is where body heat escapes more easily and is one of the essential processes in lowering core body temperatures, which will help you fall asleep much more easily during a heatwave.
Windows, curtains and blinds
It's recommended that during the day, in extreme heat waves, we should all keep our windows, curtains and blinds closed in order to block out the effects of direct sunlight. But, as the temperature drops in the evening, you should start opening windows up to allow the cool air to lower the temperature inside.
It's best to use lightly coloured blind, as dark colours will absorb much more heat and in turn, raise the temperature inside the house. It's all about reflecting the sunlight out of the house.
You could opt for a blackout blind - designed to keep all of the sunlight out - and go for a lighter colour (preferably white). Check out this - Custom Made To Measure Thermal Blackout Fabric Roller Blind
Opening windows at night could help by allowing some (hopefully) cooler air into your bedroom. But even if the open window is making it hotter in extreme temperatures, you can open another window or your bedroom door and create a cross breeze which should help cool down your bedroom and provide a more comfortable sleep.
Fans can work wonders if you don't mind putting up with the constant whirring noise through the night. The cool breeze that a fan provides, is a much more reliable option than creating your own cross breeze.
The fan that suits you best will vary from person to person. You may prefer a ceiling fan, a bladeless fan or just your standard, everyday fan. Of course budget comes into play here too, but there are certainly cheap options that should help keep you cool and comfortable overnight during a heatwave.
If you want to go a step further, you could upgrade that ceiling fan for an air conditioning unit. Again, depending on budget, you could opt for an air conditioning system to be integrated into your home. Alternatively, you could go for a portable air-con unit that can still provide some relief from the heat, but for a fraction of the price.
Staying hydrated throughout the day will work wonders for the quality of your sleep.
Your body goes a long time without nutrients and water overnight, so it's important not to dehydrate during the day and provide your body with a good amount of water just before you sleep. You should also keep a water bottle filled next to your bed just in case you wake up feeling thirsty in the night. A few gulps of cold water when you wake up in 20C+ heat will help lower your body temperature and allow you to get back to a peaceful sleep once more.
Your choice of bed can be extremely influential upon your body temperature when you sleep. Some beds will naturally provide more insulation, while others can improve/allow airflow underneath. Using a bed frame that has slats rather than a solid bed base, could help with temperature regulation in your room.
Something that may also help when it comes to your bed, is the positioning. Putting your bed low to the ground could help, as heat rises you should experience a cooler night when you sleep closer to the ground. You could also try putting the bed in the line of the cross breeze you've created, or just moving it closer to the air conditioning unit.
Your choice of mattress is just as important. There are countless styles of mattresses, toppers, and pads to choose from, many of which are specifically tailored to cooling.
Some mattresses and toppers are more high-tech than others. Some will simply use material that holds onto less heat, while others have active cooling technology. Memory foam is notorious for trapping body heat, so I would steer clear of that. But there are plenty of options, it shouldn't be difficult to find something that suits you. Check out amazons best choices here.
To complete the trilogy, you should also consider tailoring your bedding to the heat. Depending on your preferences, there are various bedding options out there that will provide different amounts of insulation.
Cotton or linen bedding could be the best choice for heatwave temperatures. The natural fibres could prove to be much nicer to sleep on in hot weather compared to synthetic materials such as polyester. You can even find blankets specifically designed to keep you cool during the night - perfect for the summer heat.
Besides material choice, the amount of bedding you use will also have a great effect on your comfort. If the temperature is soaring in the night, it could be a good idea to sleep with just a sheet cover instead of a duvet or blanket - both of which will hold in the heat and keep your body temperature high throughout the night.
Last but not least, your choice of nightwear will also have an effect on your body temperature. If you wear thick, full length pyjamas, you'll experience a much hotter night than you otherwise could. Depending on your preferences, you could find a thin, comfortable material and go for full length trousers and tops, while still having a comfortable sleep in the heat. Instead, you could opt for shorts and a t-shirt. For anyone who suffers more with the high temperatures, or simply prefers it, you could always sleep in your birthday suit!
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