Spoiler Alert: right now, Britain is experiencing a heatwave…in case you didn’t get the sweaty memo. We get that small glimmer of sunshine every year for a few weeks each summer with headlines saying, “hotter than Mexico,” and you’re partly thinking, “bring on those rays,” and another part is also very British and thinking, “seriously, no-one in Mexico is thinking, I wish I was enjoying a UK summer right now!”
Every year in the UK, we all hope to hear when our mini-British heatwave is coming; thinking of the pub gardens, BBQs and jugs of Pimms to sip BUT we all curse it when it comes to the evenings and trying to sleep.
From living on the Greek islands most summers on and off in my twenties, I have garnered a few tips and tricks. Do not fear, I am not just going to say turn on the air-con as most people in our great isles do not have this – we are about as geared up for hot weather as we are for snow.
As a side note, sleep is super important and pretty awesome. Without it, you will be grouchy, not the best company and also, you won’t have the ‘get up and go’ for enjoying a grilled halloumi skewer on the barbecue or a drink with friends in a bar’s courtyard.
To avoid the brain fog and mid-day slump of a bad night’s sleep in this heat, check out these methods for you to try.
1. Stay hydrated during the day
Did you know that one of the main reasons for not being able to sleep was down to dehydration? Most people aren’t hydrated enough on a daily basis without the hot weather so when it is sunny, we need to make a conscious effort of upping our water intake. It sounds basic but the hydration helps regulate your own temperature to help keep you cool at night.
2. Do not sleep naked – pyjamas are the way forward!
Marilyn Monroe wasn’t right when she said she only wears Chanel No. 5 to bed.
You may think this one is a biased point from me but sleeping in pjs helps to draw sweat away from your body to keep you cooler and more comfortable.
Wearing loose and thin clothing, made of natural fibres, is the way forward.
100% cotton or Tencel are good, natural fabrics to start with. Tencel is moisture wicking with anti-bacterial properties to help combat sweat so Tencel pyjamas would be a huge tick in reducing body odours but also not overheating. Polyester would be a big no-no. The plastic in the fabric isn’t kind to your skin in normal weather so add some heat into the equation and it will make you feel clammy and more sweaty when trying to sleep.
3. The game changer…..the cold water bottle
This is one of my favourite ones I used to do in Greece and still do here EVERY summer. I would freeze a 1.5 litre bottle of drinking water all day and would put it under the sheet near my pillow or feet before going to bed. If you have a hot water bottle, you can fill it with cold water and put it into the freezer as an alternative or you can use ice packs too. I personally am a water bottle advocate as it takes a long time for 1.5 litres of water to defrost so it tends to keep you cool until you are fast asleep and into the night.
4. Cold side of the pillow lovers rejoice - freeze your pillowcase
Another fave of mine if you do not have space in your freezer for a water bottle. Fold your pillowcase up and put it into your freezer during the day and take it up with you for your pillow at night. You will thank me later!
5. Keep your room dark
Like our Mediterranean neighbours, you need to keep those curtains and blinds closed in the day. If there’s a breeze, open the window but if the air is stale, it won’t make a difference as the air will be just as hot out as it is in. Doing this will help keep the daytime sunshine out of your room and will eliminate some of the boxed in heat you can feel, especially if the sun sets through your bedroom window.
6. Cold showers before going to bed
Channel your inner Wim Hof, aka the Iceman, and have a cool or lukewarm shower (maybe not quite Wim but you get the idea!) Again, from my time in Greece, during any time it got too hot, I found cool water on different points of my body, mainly wrists if I was out and about, really helped with not overheating in 30+ degree heat. The cold water from the shower will help bring your body temperature down and if you want a double whammy, wet your hair and fall to sleep with it wet. I personally wouldn’t do the wet hair and frozen pillow case combo but I’m sure you can decide your best way to cool you off so you can fall to sleep and most importantly stay asleep.
From a redheaded Brit, stay cool and sleep happy this summertime.