How to make sleeping in the heat more bearable

There are no two ways about it: sleeping during a heatwave can be miserable. Sometimes it feels like years of tossing and turning before you actually drift off, not to mention when you wake up in a pool of sweat in the middle of the night.

Everyone knows Australia’s well-deserved reputation for its warm sun and balmy days, even during winter, and while it’s great for our enjoyable beach culture, it can make sleeping difficult. So, if you’ve been struggling with sleep, it’s time to re-evaluate your routine. Luckily, there are lots of simple things you can try for the chance of a cool, undisturbed night.

Think of this as a checklist you can follow throughout the day and leading up to bedtime.

1. Do some exercise
It’s no secret that exercise helps you sleep – and in a heatwave, you need all the help you can get. It’s wise to get your aerobic efforts done in the morning – if you decide to do a HIIT class later at night, it will take a long time to cool down, and you don’t want to go to bed hot and bothered.

2. Keep your curtains shut
After a hot night’s sleep, it’s tempting to fling open your curtains to greet the day. However, if you’re due for another scorcher, keep them shut while the sun beats down, to help prevent your room from heating up too much throughout the day.

3. Put your pillowcase in the freezer

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An hour or so before bedtime, fold up your pillowcase and pop it in the freezer. When it’s time to go to sleep, put it back on your pillow, and you’ll be lying on something delightfully cool. You can do the same with your bedsheets, depending on how big your freezer is …

4. Have a cold shower before bed
A dip in an ice-cold plunge pool, or a quick swim before putting your pyjamas on, would be the dream, but a cold shower is probably your most available option. It’ll help you cool down, feel refreshed, and put the sweaty day behind you before drifting off.

5. Take a cold water bottle to bed
You might have packed up your hot water bottle for summer, but you can actually turn it into a ready-made ice block as well. Fill it with water and freeze before bed, and it will be the best thing to snuggle at night.

6. Switch on your fan
If you don’t already have a fan, now might be the time to invest. However, sometimes it can just feel like it’s pushing hot air around. To make your fan work harder, place a bowl of ice water in front of it and you’ve basically created your own air conditioning setup.

7. Stay hydrated
Few things are more unpleasant than waking up in the middle of the night feeling sweaty and dehydrated. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water during the day – but ease off on the water closer to bedtime, so you don’t wake up in the middle of the night needing the bathroom.

It’s also wise to avoid too much caffeine or alcohol before bed, as they can also contribute to dehydration.

8. Think about cotton

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Cotton is breathable and will soak up sweat, so if you’ve not changed your bedsheets or bought some light cotton pyjamas, now is the time.

9. Switch off your phone
This is another tip that helps with sleep generally, so shouldn’t be forgotten during a heatwave. The Sleep Council’s advice is to “reduce electronic use before bedtime and avoid electronic use in the bedroom” as the blue light can keep you up. If you’ve really been struggling to drift off during a heatwave, it’s time to go back to basics with sleep hygiene and switch off your phone before bed.

10. Have a sleep divorce
If you normally share a bed with your partner, a heatwave might make you reconsider your sleeping arrangements. If you have space – maybe a spare bedroom or a comfortable sofa – you could benefit from a sleep divorce, which basically means sleeping in different rooms. Then you only have to deal with your own body heat warming up the bed, and not the warmth of two people.

How do you keep cool at night? Do you have any other tips to share?

– With PA

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Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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