Trying to get a good night's sleep during a heat wave is no small feat. Your room feels like an oven and despite the gallons of ice cold water you still feel too hot and want to relax to sleep.

But there are things you can do right now to help you sleep more comfortably when it's hot at night. From drawing your bedroom curtains during the day to eating hot peppers (yes, really), these quick and easy tips could make a world of difference in the quality of your sleep during a heat wave.

To help you get through the night, we spoke to three sleep experts and a nutritionist to get their pro tips on how to sleep in hot weather. This is what you need to know…

Why does heat affect sleep?

Your sleep monitor isn't playing tricks on you: the hotter it gets, the harder it will be for you to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Sleep expert James Wilson, aka The Sleep Geek (opens in a new tab), explains why: “A drop in core temperature is one of the most significant changes our bodies go through to prepare us for sleep.

"Hot weather makes the room you sleep in warmer, which makes it harder for your body to [fall asleep]."

Theresa Schnorbach, a psychologist and sleep specialist at Emma Sleep (opens in a new window), adds: "Our body's core temperature can fluctuate throughout the day... However, to relax and sleep well, our body also needs do some cooling.

How to sleep when it's hot: quick tips

  • Close the curtains in the room during the day to prevent heat from building up in the room.
  • Open windows on both sides of your house to create airflow
  • Place a bowl of cold water or ice in front of a fan to create a DIY air conditioner.
  • Eat foods that cool down the body, such as cucumber slices.
  • Sleep naked to help your body regulate its temperature
  • Avoid heavy meals before bed because digesting food raises your temperature
  • Use an ice pack under your armpits or on the back of your neck
  • Lower your temperature with a warm (not cold) shower before bed
  • Stay hydrated with water, but don't drink too much just before bed
  • Invest in a cooling mattress topper
  • Sleep in a cooler room if your room is still too hot
  • Ditch the comforter in favor of a breathable top sheet

(Image credit: Getty)

1. Prepare your room earlier in the day

Sunlight streaming through windows is great for helping you get rid of morning numbness in the first place, but don't let intense heat build up in your bedroom all day.

"For the bedroom, it's a combination of creating airflow and blocking direct sunlight, which can make the room feel warmer." Wilson said. “I would recommend opening the windows on both sides of the house and, when the sunlight hits the bedroom directly, closing the curtains, shades or blinds.

“Some people find fans useful, and white noise can be relaxing for some people, although some find the noise bothersome. [use some sleep earplugs if this is you].” Wilson's best advice? "Putting cold water in front of a desk fan can help blow cool air into the room."

An ice cube tray or ice pack works too, and if it's safe to do so, you can position your fan near the window to blow in cooler air from outside once the temperature finally drops overnight.

2. Eat refreshing foods

A heat wave is the perfect time to increase your intake of cooling foods, and the cream of the crop is cucumbers and chili peppers.

Nutritionist Jenny Tschiesche, who currently works with vegan gummy vitamin brand nutriburst (opens in a new tab), explains: “Cucumbers are about 95% water. They provide hydration but also contain anti-inflammatory fisetin which can help reduce swelling, redness and irritability.

Do you like your food hotter? Tschiesche says that chili peppers can be surprisingly cooling for the body: “The active ingredient in chili peppers, capsaicin, activates the hypothalamus, which is like your body's thermostat, and makes you sweat. This allows you to cool down. »

Try drinking this refreshing cucumber juice tonight…

3. Switch to breathable bamboo bedding

The heat wave is not the time for polar sheets. For a fresher feel, Hannah Shore, bedding expert at Silentnight (opens in a new tab), recommends breathable fibers. “Natural fibers are good at regulating temperature, but some people find these materials a bit heavy. If this is the case for you, go for polyester as it provides a breathable sleeping environment but won't be as heavy.

Wilson Roots for Bamboo Bedding. “Bamboo is great for bedding because it absorbs and absorbs moisture very well. Although cotton absorbs moisture well, it does not wick it away very well. The higher the cotton thread count, the less breathable the fabric will be.

4. Avoid large meals and caffeine before bed

Learning to sleep in hot weather requires some dietary adjustments. "Lighter meals mean easier digestion," says nutritionist Tschiesche. "Digestion uses energy and therefore generates heat."

Caffeine near bed is a big no-no for sleeping anyway, but especially in hot weather. “Caffeine can stimulate the process of thermogenesis which will make you hot. Avoid coffee and caffeinated teas, including green tea close to bedtime in hot weather.

5. Use an ice pack to cool down quickly

Sleep scientist Theresa Schnorbach recommends clearing the path to more restful sleep. "Take an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or towel (never apply an ice pack directly to the skin) and hold it against the places where blood flows closest to the skin's surface and it will cool you down quickly.

No ice pack? No problem. "You can also use a hot water bottle filled with cold water or even a wet washcloth."

6. Take a hot shower or bath before bed

Hot weather may require you to turn down the temperature of your shower, but a warm or hot shower or bath is most effective at cooling down before bed.

A woman takes a bath while listening to music with headphones

(Image credit: Getty)

"It may seem counterintuitive," says Schnorbach, "but snuggling up with a warm blanket or taking a warm shower or bath before bed can help lower your core temperature by encouraging blood vessels to expand, thereby losing excess body heat." .

Don't have time to take a bath or shower? Splash instead. “You can spray water on pulse points like your wrists or the sides of your neck. Your body's blood vessels will react to the cooling sensation and instantly lower your core temperature.

7. Hot or not, just go to bed when you're sleepy

Temperatures don't really drop until later at night during a heat wave, so what if it's still too hot outside at bedtime? Should we abandon the nightly routine to avoid suffering in a hot room? Yes, but get up at the usual time.

"We shouldn't go to bed if we're not sleepy," Wilson reminds us. "That's especially true in hot weather and I think people need to listen to their bodies and make sure they're trying to do things that lower their heart rate, relax and lower their core temperature.

“To make sure we stick to our sleep schedule and allow our sleep pressure to develop properly during the day (sleep pressure makes us sleepy at bedtime), even if you go to bed later, keep your time constant waking up.

8. Don't drink too much water before bed

"Optimal hydration can certainly help you sleep better, but being too hydrated will lead to trips to the bathroom at night, which will disrupt your sleep," says nutritionist Tschiesche.

Not sure if you're drinking enough water for your weight and height? Try using an app with a hydration tracking feature, like MyFitnessPal (learn how to use MyFitness Pal here).

9. Reconsider the mattress here

Even the best mattresses can tend to retain heat in hot weather, so if you overheat during sleep anyway, or have hot flashes (hot flashes) or night sweats, look for a cooler mattress.

"Mattresses that include foam, even though the foam is said to keep you cool, aren't as good in hot weather as innerspring mattresses with natural fillings like wool, alpaca, bamboo, or silk," says Wilson. "You can also get mattress toppers that allow you to adjust the temperature of your sleeping environment for both sides of the bed."

How to sleep when it's hot: things to remember

As our experts have shared, you'll have a better chance of sleeping through heat waves and hot weather if you prepare for it. This means making sure your bedroom is protected from intense heat and sunlight during the day, and hydrating your body enough to get through the night.

Hacking your own air conditioner with an ice cube tray or bowl of cold water in front of a fan will blow cooler air into the room, and placing an ice pack under your arms or on the back of your neck can help if you're hot. . radiance.

Above all, try to relax and remember that this heat will pass and you will be back to sleeping comfortably in no time. While getting a good night's sleep is important, most of us can deal with the odd night of interrupted sleep.

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