As the body needs a relatively cool temperature for good sleep, the height of the summer is typically one of the most difficult times of the year when it comes to sleep quality and night-time comfort in general. Failing to cope with the summer heat can dramatically impact on how well you sleep, leading to both sleep deprivation and a poor routine that lasts long after the warm weather has gone.
It's essential to prepare your bedroom for coping with hot temperatures if you're going to get to sleep as quickly and easily as usual. If your bedroom window is south-facing then it will have the entire afternoon and evening with the sun beating down on it, making the room excessively hot. Try closing the curtains or blinds to begin blocking out the excess heat as soon as possible. Consider how easily air circulates around the room, leave the door open and if it’s safe to do so, open a window. A fan, either ceiling-mounted or floor-standing, is a good alternative. When air is moved around there’s less chance that the room will become stiflingly hot and stuffy.
Your bedding should be suitable for the summer. Make sure your duvet is a lightweight grade - tog-rating 4.5 is the most appropriate for warmer seasons. Depending on how hot the night is, you may find yourself dispensing with the duvet altogether. Thin cotton sheets are a good choice, as they are breathable, cooling and wick any moisture away from the body. Of course, throws, blankets or other excess bedding might look stylish during the day but they’re completely inappropriate for use on warm nights so should be temporarily discarded when you’re trying to sleep.
As well as preparing your bedroom and bed, you should also prepare your body for going to sleep in the warmth. Taking a luke warm or slightly cool bath or shower will help to rapidly bring your body temperature down, making it more comfortable when you go into the bedroom. Drinking warm herbal tea is a good way to regulate the body's temperature and expel excess sweat before bedtime. This will also hydrate you, meaning that there’s less chance of waking up in the middle of the night with an extremely dry mouth and urgent thirst. If you find that you're still overheated when you’re in bed, a cold damp flannel on your forehead will help cool you down.
Last of all, don't stress out if you can't sleep because of the warmth. Lying awake thinking about how long it will be before you get up won't help your mind relax into sleep. Try to switch off your thought-process and unwind. Slow breathing and muscle relaxation techniques are a good way of taking your mind away from stressful thoughts.
With a little preparation, warm summer nights needn’t be a sleep-free zone. By cooling down your bedroom, your bed and your body, you’re reducing the chance of being kept awake by the heat, and ensuring that you can continue sleeping as soundly as usual.