The world is literally on fire in some parts as regions face record-breaking temperatures year-on-year – and as if facing down your own “this is fine” reality isn’t tough enough, nothing robs you of sleep quite like a heatwave. As places like the UK face unprecedented weather without the infrastructure to tolerate it, we’ve been researching some tips for keeping cool and trying to sleep in extreme heat.
When Jason Derulo sang, “It's too hard to sleep, I got the sheets on the floor. Nothing on me, and I can't take it no more – it's 100 degrees,” we felt that. Especially on July 19, 2022, as the UK recorded its highest temperature on record twice, exceeding the 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) mark for the first time.
As it grows increasingly apparent that the world is in need of some serious solutions to the ongoing climate crisis, sleep is as important as ever for keeping a clear head – but all the more elusive. So, here are some tips for trying to keep up on your Zzzs during a heatwave.
Areas where the hot days are followed by comparatively cool nights are well placed to practice passive cooling. The approach involves essentially keeping the heat out by keeping curtains drawn and blinds closed during the sunniest hours of the day, preventing sunlight from heating up your home’s internal temperature.
This can also be bolstered by opening doors and windows early in the morning and later at night (if safe to do so) so that cool air can ventilate the property. However, you’ll want to avoid keeping them open during the day as it’s likely the air outside your home will get hotter than that inside it. As such, you want to keep the cool air in and the hot air out.
Cool your fabrics
Sheets and pillowcases with spaceships and rockets are dope but they won’t lower your temperature. However, put those same dope threads in the freezer (wrapped in a plastic bag) and you’ll find them refreshingly cool while you’re trying to drift off.
The same applies to pajamas (if you wear them), and your best bet is to opt for something breathable. Think soft cotton vests, T-shirts, and shorts. A wet flannel on the forehead also never goes amiss and can be made all the more soothing with a brief stint in the freezer.
Make your water work smarter
If you have access to drinking water and a freezer, then you have everything you need to make a heatwave bedtime buddy right at home. Switch your bedtime water bottle for a frozen one that can be placed on keep-cool wonder points: head/neck, elbows, knees, and feet (knees and feet!).
A spray bottle is also a great investment, as applying squirts to your wrists, elbows, neck, and face can provide relief without getting your sheets soaked if you wake in the middle of the night.
The shower can also provide a bit of pre-bed prep, as taking a cool-to-tepid shower can encourage your body temperature to lower before climbing into bed. Resist the urge to go too cold, however, as your body may try to overcompensate and warm you up.
While steps can be taken to mitigate the negative effects of a heatwave on your sleep, it can be difficult to manage and if you find yourself feeling unwell it’s best to contact your healthcare provider. Further tips on keeping your home cool, as well as health advice surrounding excessive heat, can be found via this resource from the World Health Organization.