General Health
    1234 · 20 min read

    Too Hot To Sleep: Simple Tips For How To Sleep In The Heat

    As temperatures rise and yellow heat-health alerts are issued across parts of England, many of us find it increasingly difficult to get a good night's sleep. High temperatures can make our bedrooms uncomfortably warm, affecting our ability to get a good night's rest. In this article, we will provide practical tips and advice on how to stay cool and improve your sleep during these hot spells.

    Key Takeaways

    Here are the top 5 takeaways from this article about sleeping when the weather is warm:

    • Drinking plenty of water helps cool your core body temperature, which can improve sleep quality during hot weather.

    • Avoiding caffeine at least eight hours before bedtime and alcohol at least three hours before bed can minimise sleep disturbances and improve overall sleep quality.

    • Keeping a consistent sleep schedule and incorporating cooling strategies (like lightweight bedding and fans) can promote better sleep even in hot weather.

    • Blocking out sunlight with curtains or blinds, using low tog sheets, and using fans or ice-cold hot water bottles can create a cooler, more comfortable sleeping environment.

    • High temperatures increase the risks of heat exhaustion, heatstroke, overheating, dehydration, and exhaustion, which can significantly impact health and sleep quality.

    Drink plenty of water 

    Drinking a glass of cold water can help you to sleep better during hot weather. For some people, it's a common practice to drink a glass of water right before bed to aid in sleep. Hydration is crucial as it helps to cool your core body temperature, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep (Jarecke-Cheng, 2023).

    Avoid drinks with caffeine (soft drinks, coffee, tea) 

    Managing your caffeine intake is also essential for a good night's sleep during hot weather. It's generally recommended to avoid consuming caffeine at least eight hours before bedtime. For example, if you usually go to bed at 10pm, try to avoid caffeine after 2pm. By doing so, you can help minimise sleep disturbances and improve your chances of getting a restful night's sleep despite the heat (Pacheco & Cotliar, 2024).

    Avoid alcohol 

    You should also try to be mindful of your alcohol consumption when the weather is warm, no matter how tempting a cold drink may be. Experts recommend avoiding alcohol at least three hours before bed. Drinking alcohol before sleep can lead to frequent awakenings and generally poor-quality sleep. Over time, regular alcohol use can cause chronic sleep problems and disorders such as sleep apnea (Bryan & Singh, 2024).

    Lady sleeping in bed with the fan on in hot weather

    Try to keep a consistent routine in the hot weather 

    Maintaining a consistent routine is particularly important during hot weather to ensure better sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps regulate your body's internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up refreshed. 

    Even when the temperatures rise, sticking to your usual sleep schedule can promote more restful and uninterrupted sleep. You can also incorporate new aspects to your routine if th weather is warm, including lightweight bedding, a fan, or a cold shower before bed, according to Putnams.

    Keep your children's routine as consistent as possible

    Bedtime routines are essential for a child's sleep quality and quantity, especially during hot weather. Consistency and encouragement play key roles in helping children maintain an ideal sleep schedule. Engaging in calming activities and establishing easy-to-follow routines can significantly reduce bedtime struggles, making it easier for kids to settle down and enjoy a restful night’s sleep (Pacheco & Callender, 2023).

    Avoid daytime naps when it's hot 

    Whilst taking a nap during the day might seem appealing, it can disrupt your sleep later that night. According to Nuffield Health, napping can negatively impact our circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep at night. If you do need a nap, try to do it early in the day and keep it short, ideally around 15-20 minutes.

    Do things that make you feel calm and relaxed

    Avoid blue light (using your mobile phone or playing video games) 

    Blue light, emitted by electronic devices and artificial lights, is a wavelength of light that plays a significant role in our daily rhythms. During the day, exposure to blue light can enhance alertness and regulate our heart rate. However, excessive exposure to blue light in the evening can disrupt our circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep (Newsom & Singh, 2024).

    Read more, draw something, fold clothes (anything that isn't too stimulating for you)

    Engaging in activities such as reading, drawing, or folding clothes before bedtime can help relax your mind and prepare your body for sleep. These activities are generally less stimulating compared to screen time or intense physical activities, making them conducive to winding down. Reading a book, sketching, or doing a simple task like folding clothes can promote a sense of calm and help signal to your body that it's time to unwind and prepare for rest.

    Bedtime meditation 

    Bedtime meditation can be an effective way to calm your mind and prepare for sleep, especially during hot weather when it may be harder to relax. Taking a few minutes to meditate before bed can help reduce stress and quiet racing thoughts, making it easier to drift off into a peaceful sleep. The NHS has even put together a bedtime meditation video you can follow along with before you get in bed.

    Listen to calming music (The UK Meds Music For Sleep Playlist) 

    Listening to calming music before bedtime can be a soothing way to unwind and promote better sleep, particularly in warm weather. Soft, gentle melodies can help relax your mind and body, creating a tranquil atmosphere conducive to falling asleep. Previously we have put together a Music for Sleep playlist specifically designed to promote relaxation at bedtime. This playlist can also help you get a good night's rest during hot weather.

    Optimise your sleep environment for the heat

    Draw curtains and blinds during the day to block out the sun 

    To keep your home cool during hot weather, it's effective to draw curtains and blinds during the day. This helps to block out sunlight and prevents hot air from entering your home. Using insulated cellular shades, also known as honeycomb shades due to their unique construction, can be particularly beneficial. These shades can block up to 80% of unwanted solar heat (Suni & Wright, 2023).

    Close windows in your house where the sun shines to keep out the hot air during the day, but open your windows before bedtime

    To keep your home cooler during the day, close windows where the sun shines to block out hot air. Although it might seem counterintuitive, if the outside air is hotter than the air inside, keeping your windows closed can help maintain a cooler indoor temperature. Before bed, open your windows to let in the cooler evening air. This can help create a more comfortable sleeping environment (Katsha, 2023).

    Use sheets with a lower tog 

    Using sheets with a lower tog rating can significantly enhance your comfort during hot weather. A tog rating measures the thermal insulation of bedding, with lower values indicating cooler options. For warmer weather, a 2.5 or 4.5 tog duvet is ideal, helping you stay cool and comfortable, according to Dusk.

    Find ways to keep cool:

    Use a fan 

    Using a fan can be effective in hot and humid weather to help you sleep better. A fan positioned at a comfortable distance from your face encourages sweat to evaporate, aiding in body temperature regulation according to John Ryan. For an extra cooling effect, place a tray of ice and water or a bowl of ice cubes in front of the fan to blow cooler air in your direction. 

    Put socks in the fridge during the day 

    Cooling your feet is an effective way to lower your overall body temperature for better sleep in hot weather. Try putting a pair of socks in the fridge during the day and then put them on before bed. The chilled socks can help cool your feet which can promote a more comfortable and restful night's sleep according to the Red Cross.

    Put ice-cold water in your hot water bottle 

    Using a hot water bottle filled with ice-cold water can be a great way to cool your bed before sleep. Simply fill your hot water bottle with ice-cold water and place it in your bed about 10 minutes before you plan to go to sleep, or while you brush your teeth and take a cold shower. This will cool your sheets and covers, making your bed more comfortable. Just remember to remove the bottle before getting into bed, as direct contact with your skin could cause ice burn (Heath, 2022).

    A lady struggling to sleep in the middle of the night because of hot weather

    How do hot temperatures affect the body?

    Hot temperatures can affect everyone differently. Some people enjoy hot temperatures whereas others dislike them. Temperature can affect your body and bodily functions, particularly at night when you are trying to sleep (Waite, 2018).

    Increases the risk of heatstroke

    Hot temperatures can significantly increase the risk of heatstroke, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. When the body is exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods, its ability to regulate internal temperature can become overwhelmed. This can lead to a rapid rise in core body temperature. If the body cannot cool itself effectively through sweating, heat exhaustion can develop, potentially leading to heatstroke (Gallagher, 2024).

    Increases the risk of overheating 

    Overheating poses significant health risks, particularly during periods of extreme heat. When the body struggles to cool itself, it can lead to severe stress on vital organs such as the heart and kidneys. This strain can exacerbate existing chronic conditions, including cardiovascular, respiratory, mental health and diabetes-related issues, according to the World Health Organisation.

    Increases the risk of dehydration

    Hot temperatures significantly increase the risk of dehydration. When the body tries to cool itself through sweating it loses essential fluids and electrolytes. If these are not replenished, dehydration can set in, leading to a range of health problems (NHS, 2022).

    Increases the risk of exhaustion 

    High temperatures can significantly increase the risk of heat exhaustion, particularly when the body is struggling to regulate its internal temperature. Heat exhaustion is a condition that occurs when the body overheats and can no longer cool itself properly. This can lead to serious health issues if it is not addressed quickly (NHS, 2022).

    Here is a handy table that outlines different parts of the body and how they are affected by high temperatures:

    Body Part

    Effects

    HeadDizziness and faint feelings from not drinking enough water
    HeartHeart rate increases as the body works harder
    SkinSkin produces sweat, cooling the skin by losing heat through evaporation. Heat rashes as the body loses heat from the skin
    AnklesAnkles can become swollen from increased blood flow

    How can a lack of sleep affect your body?

    Here is a handy table that covers different parts of the body and how they are affected by a lack of sleep:

    Body Part

    Effects

    BrainLowers cognitive functioning and mood (National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute, 2022)
    Immune SystemLowers immune response, making you more prone to colds (Olson, 2018)
    General HealthVaccinations are less effective (Rayatdoost et al, 2022)
    HeartIncreases risk of cardiovascular disease (Evbayekha et al, 2022)
    PancreasAffects blood glucose control and risk of type 2 diabetes (Naidoo et al, 2014)
    Body WeightCauses a greater risk of obesity (Broussard & Klein, 2022)

    How much sleep do I actually need each night?

    Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial for maintaining good health and well-being, particularly when the weather is hot. Adults generally need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to function optimally. Children require more sleep, typically between 9 to 13 hours per night. Toddlers and babies require between 12-17 hours of sleep a day, depending on their age (NHS, 2024). Ensuring you get enough sleep by following our tips above can really make a difference.

    Sources

    Insomnia - NHS

    Bedtime routine: how many hours of sleep do kids need? - Own It - BBC

    Here to help you

    Our Customer Service is available Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm. If you need urgent assistance, do not use this service. Call 111, or in an emergency call 999. Visit our help section