It looks a little like this — you jump into bed, exhausted after a long day, and before you’re anywhere close to drifting off, you realise you’re lying in a pool of your own sweat.
Not only that, the air in your room feels like it’s sitting at 30°C — despite the fact it’s 10pm at night — and your ceiling fan seems to be swirling all the warm air around, making things worse. Makes you feel uncomfortable just thinking about it, right?
“A lot of people find it hard to sleep in summer,” explains sleep expert Elina Winnel.
“As a general rule, the ideal temperature for sleep is somewhere between 15°C and 19°C, and this becomes an issue in the warmer months.”
But it’s not just the temperature keeping you up at night.
“You’re more likely to go out in summer,which means you don’t have a consistent bedtime, and you’re also more likely to drink alcohol,which further disrupts your sleep,” she adds.
Give yourself the best chance of sleep success with these few simple tweaks.
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1. Turn the lights down low
“The sun comes up earlier and goes down later during summer, and since light can halt production of the sleep hormone melatonin, it’s important to block it out,” tips Winnel.
Keep your curtains drawn to avoid getting woken up before your alarm, and invest in blockout blinds or tinted windows to help deflect heat. Artificial lights can also increase room temperature, so avoid turning on too many and use a dull lamp instead.
2. Chill your accessories
If the fan just isn’t cutting it, toss your bedtime attire (like sleep masks and pyjamas) in the fridge or freezer. They may not keep you cool the whole night, but they could help you nod off sooner.
For relief that lasts, try freezing a hot-water bottle and taking it to bed with you or creating a cold compress by filling a cloth bag with rice. Simply whack it in the freezer in the morning and use it to cool your head and pulse points at night.
3. Maximise airflow
Although you should keep your windows shut during the day to block out the hot air, open them up before you jump into bed to make the most of the night-time breeze.
To help improve airflow, place a fan opposite your window so it can push the hot air out and suck the cool breeze in. If the air outside is still warm, hang a damp sheet in front of the window to help cool the air down as it passesthrough.
4. Upgrade your bedding
Swap thick or satin sheets for a more breathable blend of cotton, linen or bamboo.
“Synthetic fibres make it harder for your skin to breathe,” notes Winnel, and if you’re in the market for a new mattress, she recommends going big.
“If you’re buying a new bed, opt for a larger mattress so you don’t have to sleep as close to your partner. Adults let off a lot of body heat, so having a little extra space between you can help.”
Can’t fork out the funds for a new bed? Invest in a cooling-gel or memory-foam mattress topper instead, as they help to distribute heat more evenly.
5. Wear natural fibres to bed
Just like your sheets, your pyjamas should also be made from natural fibres like cotton, linen or bamboo to help regulate airflow and wick away sweat.
Go for something that’s loose — but not so loose it irritates you or you gets tangled up as you change positions — and try wearing a wet wristband to bed. It’s close to your pulse points, which will help you cool down faster.
6. Sleep like an Egyptian
Wet a thin sheet or blanket, ring it out until it’s damp and not dripping, and then place it over you while you snooze. As the water evaporates, it’ll cool you down just like sweat does when it dries. Legend has it the ancient Egyptians used a similar technique to beat the desert heat.
Seems like a bit too much work? You can get the same results with a few damp towels.
7. Add some greenery
“If you’ve got your windows closed and the aircon or fan on, having a plant around can help improve the air quality in your room, and this helps with sleep,” tips Winnel.
Mother-in-law’s tongue, aloe vera and peace lilies produce oxygen instead of carbon dioxide at night, which makes them perfect bedroom buddies, as is the areca palm, which acts as a natural humidifier.
Beat the heat with these cooling accessories
1.Dock & Bay Cooling Towel ($29, dockandbay.com)
Run this towel under water, squeeze out excess water, give it a few shakes, and it’ll stay at a chilly 15°C for up to six hours.
2.The Body Shop Cooling Gel Eye Mask ($12, thebodyshop.com)
Place this eye mask in the fridge and pop it on before bed to help you unwind.
3.Smartduvet (from $299, smartduvet.com)
Choose your ideal temperature with this app-doona combo, which can raise its air circulation so your body’s natural evaporation process can cool you down.
4.Sunnylife Misting Fan ($29.95, myer.com.au)
Keep this clever fan on your bedside table for a midnight spritz.
5.Dyson Cool Tower Fan ($548, dyson.com.au)
Thanks to its streamlined air channel, this fan is the perfect combination of powerful and quiet.
SUMMER SLEEP DOS AND DON’TS
Expert Elina Winnel reveals what to do — and what not to
DO sleep like a starfish
The more skin you can have exposed to the air, the better you’ll sleep in the heat. If it’s comfortable for you, sleeping like a starfish, with your arms and legs splayed out around you, is the ideal position.
DON’T hit the booze
Alcohol affects your sleep architecture. If you drink too much or drink too close to bedtime, you won’t achieve good-quality sleep and you’ll wake up feeling tired.
DO have a night out
While you should be mindful of your alcohol consumption, that doesn’t mean you need to avoid socialising. Being with friends helps you feel part of a community. This brings your nervous system into balance, and makes you feel safer and calmer, which helps you sleep better.