Temperature plays an important role in influencing the human sleep cycle. As we get closer to bedtime, our core body temperature usually drops along with our heart rate, and this is believed to increase this well-known sleepy feeling.
On the other hand, during hot nights, it becomes more difficult for our body to lose body heat, which also affects our ability to fall asleep. High night temperatures can also lead to disturbed sleep, leaving us with a feeling of fatigue that follows us throughout the day.
What to avoid
- Avoid working out around bedtime as this will increase the internal body temperature. If you do choose to exercise, work out several hours before to give your body a chance to regain its pre-exercise temperature.
- Avoid accumulating an excessive amount of heat during the day by reducing your activities.
- Avoid hot, heavy, or spicy foods/meals, especially around bedtime.
- Also avoid chocolate or caffeine drinks (tea, coffee, and energy drinks) during the late afternoon or evening, as these may keep you awake. Both alcohol and caffeinated drinks increase dehydration and should be avoided.
What to do
- Take a cool or lukewarm shower before going to bed. This immediately refreshes your body and can help to lower your skin temperature.
- Choose the cooler part of the house to sleep in if not your bedroom. A quiet, dark, and cool space will improve the quality of your sleep.
- Choose the appropriate bed linen. Quality bed linen and nightwear also contribute to the creation of a microclimate around our skin which maintains an optimal temperature. Select lightweight, cotton fabrics.
- Wear light, loose-fitting clothes, ideally made of natural fabrics such as cotton or linen that absorb sweat and allow skin breathing. Try to avoid synthetics.
- If your pet is sleeping next to you and "warms" the bed, it might be time to find another place for him/her to sleep!
- Use ventilators in an adequately aerated area. Be sure the bedroom where you are sleeping has an open door or window that allows fresh air to flow through.
- Drink plenty of water during the day in order to keep your body hydrated and cool while sleeping. Being dehydrated is a very common cause of not being able to sleep (insomnia). Always keep a glass of cold water by your bedside in case you do wake up due to the heat.
- Try to have stable sleeping and wake-up hours.
- If you need to keep a bed sheet over your body, try keeping your legs out of it, because body heat will dissipate through them.
- Flipping over your pillow on its other side may help you if you are awakened feeling hot.
- The use of a misting spray on your face and body can be refreshing. Should you wake up in the middle of the night, a repetition of this method will also be helpful.
- If you choose to sleep outside because you cannot keep your house cool, make sure you are protected from mosquitoes and other insects.