With temperatures expected to climb above 30C (86F) over the coming days, the UK is bracing itself for this year's first heatwave. The UK Health Security Agency has increased its heat health warning from yellow to amber, meaning there's a greater risk to everyone's health — not just the vulnerable.
Meanwhile, with soaring temperatures and unbearable humidity (thunderstorms are predicted), getting some much-needed sleep will be harder than usual. So what can you do to stay safe and get some shut-eye during these hot summer nights? We asked the experts for their top heatwave sleep tips...
1. Prepare Your Bedroom for the Heatwave
The first step you can take to combat overheating at night is to prepare your bedroom during the day.
'Keep your windows and curtains closed throughout the day. This will stop the heat coming in and reduce the temperature of your room,' suggests Steve Reid CEO of high-tech sleep brand SIMBA. 'Once the sun sets and the temperature drops, open them back up for a slightly cooler breeze.'
2. Wear Cotton in Bed to Beat the Heat
If you're a fan of snuggling up in pyjamas, make sure you opt for natural fibres to help you keep your cool — cotton and linen are ideal. Avoid synthetics like polyester unless you want to wake up a sweaty mess. We did warn you.
'What you wear to bed has a huge effect on how well you sleep,' says Reid. 'Loose fitting, well-ventilated cotton pyjamas are the best option. Avoid synthetic materials that will cling to you at night. Cotton has moisture-absorbing properties that will help keep the sweat from your body and ultimately allow for an improved level of comfort.'
3. Switch to a Summer Duvet
Us Brits love a thick tog to see us through the chilly winters, but it's worth investing in a summer duvet or switching to a cotton sheet to keep you from seriously overheating during the warmer months.
'Cocooning yourself in a thick duvet is not going to be helpful,' says Dr Irshaad Ebrahim on behalf of the London Sleep Centre. 'Switch to a lighter tog or ditch it altogether in favour of a cover sheet. Breathable bedding is best, so opt for linen or bamboo, or cotton for a more affordable option.'
4. Freeze Your Bed Sheets
If you're lucky enough to own a big freezer, prepare your bedding in advance to help you keep your temperature down or invest in some cooling bedding. Linen is a great option as it wicks away sweat effectively without the fabric feeling damp or weighed down,
'Pop your sheets in the freezer before putting them on the bed for a burst of coolness,' suggests Dr Ebrahim. 'There is also specialist bedding available which you may like to consider, such as buckwheat or water-filled pillows which help transfer heat away from the body.'
'As a last resort, damp towels can provide some temporary relief for a few hours when wrapped around the feet, but it’s best to avoid this if your room is not well ventilated or suffers with damp.'
5. Turn off All Electronic Devices
Sleep hygiene is essential and sharing your bedroom with multiple electrical devices can impact your sleep quality. 'Unplug or turn-off any unnecessary electrical devices as you’d be surprised at the heat generated by devices including TVs and laptops, and even lightbulbs,' says Dr Ebrahim. 'It will make a small difference, but these things add up!'
6. Invest in a Desk Fan
If opening your windows isn't an option, then it's worth investing in a small fan to cool you down at night. Desk fans also come with an unexpected sleep boosting trick. 'The white noise of a fan whirring away is actually proven to help sleep,' says Dr Ebrahim.
7. Make Your Own Home Air-con
To get the best from your fan, you can make your very own at-home air conditioning unit. 'Put some ice in a shallow baking tray, pan or bowl and place that in front of your fan,' says Reid. 'As the ice begins to melt, the breeze will pick up the moisture and disperse a cooling mist across the room.'
8. Try a Cooling Water Spritz
If you're really struggling with the heat and no amount of bedroom prep is working, try a spritz of cooling water to help you get some shut-eye. 'Another great tip is spraying a fine mist of water on your face and limbs before you sleep, as it works in the same way as sweating by evaporating and cooling the body,' advises Dr Ebrahim.
9. Remove Allergens
Hay fever keeping you up? Itchy eyes and a runny nose are nightmarish at the best of times, but when you’re lying awake with nothing to distract you, it can be downright miserable. Not only is the pollen count highest first thing in the morning and last thing at night, but pollen has a pesky habit of hanging around in the air, so if you’ve had your windows open it’s probably pervaded your bedroom.
Investing in an air purifier is a wise move. They work to remove dust, pollen and other allergens from the air, and many also offer a cooling effect (such as the one below) so they’re ideal for combatting the hot weather too. Switch it on half an hour or so before you go to bed.
10. Sleep Solo to Keep Your Cool
If you find yourself tossing and turning all night long and your other half is emanating enough heat to boil a kettle, consider separate rooms for the duration of the heatwave.
'Not only are partners more likely to disturb you in the night, the extra body heat can make it even harder to get to sleep in the summer months,' says Neil Robinson, Chief Sleep Officer at Sealy UK. 'Sleeping in separate beds also means that you’re able to stretch out, rather than curl up, which helps body heat to escape.'
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