Long days spent by the beach, evening BBQs with friends and crisp, fresh air are just some of our favourite things when it comes to Summer. But for many of us, Summer nights can bring on constant tossing and turning as temperatures remain excessively humid, leaving us desperate for a good night’s sleep. Thankfully, there are multiple measures you can take to cool your body down in the evening and maintain a comfortable temperature during the night. Read on for our tips on how to snooze the Summer away.
1. How temperature impacts sleep
Understanding how temperature affects our sleep is the key to helping it work for you rather than against you. ‘The way the body works is that we are at our lowest temperature at about 4am and the highest temperature at around 7pm’ according to Sleep Physician Dr Carmel Harrington. ‘Once we reach our peak body temperature and the temperature starts to go down, that’s the time we tend to sleep’. As part of the normal sleep cycle, your body temperature starts to decrease in line with its circadian rhythm within the first two stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. This together with the release of melatonin, a hormone triggered when it starts to get dark induces feelings of relaxation and helps us to nod off at night.
Most people will experience a drop in 2 degrees while they sleep. Body temperature typically returns to normal prior to waking to ensure you can wake up feeling more refreshed and alert in the morning.
External temperatures can of course interfere with the natural thermoregulation that occurs during sleep. If your bedroom environment is too warm it can increase your body temperature and disturb your sleep. You are most sensitive to temperature during the first two NREM sleep stages, thus more likely to wake up during these stages if you feel hot.
What is the ideal temperature for sleep?
The ideal temperature for sleep is 18 degrees. This can vary by a few degrees from person to person, but the Sleep Health Foundation recommends keeping your body temperature between 15-19 degrees for the most comfortable night’s sleep. By maintaining this temperature we can signal to our body that it’s time for bed.
2. Tips for better sleep when the weather is hot
- Draw the curtains: By keeping sunlight out of your bedroom, you’ll help your sleeping sanctuary remain cool, even on blistering hot nights. Draw your curtains in the morning and leave them that way for the duration of the day to keep the heat at bay. Many find blackout curtains (designed to block outside light), are effective at keeping bedrooms cool in the Summer months.
- Don’t exercise close to bedtime: Moderate exercise during the day can be very beneficial to sleep, as it can expend energy and help you feel tired in the evening. In saying that however, exercising too close to your set bedtime can also cause your body temperature to spike and create havoc when you try to fall asleep at your desired time at night.
- Take a lukewarm shower: As tempting as it may be to have a freezing cold shower before bed, Dr Carmel Harrington advises otherwise as it can alert the body rather than cool it down. She instead recommends a lukewarm shower as this ‘can enhance the body’s naturally falling temperature’. As heat is lost more quickly in your extremities, soaking your feet for 10 minutes or wetting your hair before bed can also keep you cool.
- Invest in the right mattress and pillow: Some mattresses with thick foams tend to absorb and trap body heat, making you feel excessively warm. Other mattresses with properties like Air-X® ventilation and open coil systems can help to circulate air throughout the night, while some pillows feature a cool touch Ver-Tex® material for a cool, dry sleep.
- Try natural bedding: Linen, sheets and pillowcases made from natural fibres like bamboo cotton and linen offer improved breathability in comparison to those made from polyester and other synthetic fabrics. Our new bamboo cotton and linen range are highly absorbent for those warm Summer nights.
3. How to stay cool in bed
- Find the ideal clothing: Some prefer wearing lightweight, loose cotton, satin or bamboo pyjamas or sweats to bed, while others find sleeping in the buff or semi-buff more comfortable. Choose the sleeping attire which works best for you. Keep in mind that thick, insulating clothing can elevate your body temperature and cause you to overheat in bed.
- Cool the air: A fan can help to circulate the air better throughout your room and assist you in staying cool. Even if you already use an air conditioner, you should consider a fan for extra airflow. If it’s cooler outside than in, you could try opening the door or window to help improve air circulation. Cool tip: hang a wet sheet in front of the open window for extra air-cooling benefits.
- Keep ice or water within reach: A cool glass of water on your nightstand can always provide much-needed relief if you wake up in a sweat. Cold cloths or wristbands can also help cool your down, on particularly sweltering evenings. Even your beloved ice pack when held on the armpits or groin area for short periods of time can help.
- Spray your pillowcase: For extra cooling when you go to sleep, flip the pillow over to the ‘cold side’. You may even like to keep a spray bottle of cool water by the bed to give your pillowcase, face and body a refreshing spritz if you wake up during the night.
Since maintaining a lower body temperature is crucial to your overall health, you may need to take extra precautions for keeping cool when it’s too hot to sleep. By keeping your curtains drawn during the day, refraining from exercise too close to bedtime, taking a lukewarm shower and investing in the right mattress, pillow and bedding you’re more likely to avoid the discomfort of an excessively warm Summer night. We hope our recommended tips will you stay at a cool, comfortable temperature in bed so you can snooze the night away.