Us Brits love the summer. We look forward to those two weeks when our bags feel lighter from lack of umbrellas and the reddening of our rosbif skin like a 14 year old looks forward to the school disco, or a child anticipates unwrapping the silvery paper on Christmas day, or a cat eagerly anticipates the clink of the fork on the feeing bowl….ok you get it, we love the summer.
We dream of days spent lolling around the park, dripping thick ice cream syrup all down our sundresses and evenings spent sipping vast quantities of cider at the local.
But oh, those summer nights.
Well, they’re just plain awful, aren't they?
Sticky sheets, flipping the pillow over every five minutes in the hope one side could be cool, sweat dripping all over the shop and waking-up, the streets outside too noisy to open the window, the desperation to doze off before the pesky cider headache starts to kick in…
We’ve just about had enough!
So, we've researched seven sure-fire ways to guarantee a restful night’s sleep during a heatwave…
1. Pop your bedding in the freezer
Yes, yes we know - it sounds ridiculous. But choosing one small item of bedding and putting it in a protective cover inside the freezer for a few minutes will make tonight's heat bearable.
Pick either your pillow, sheet or duvet cover (if you’ve got a freezer big enough to fit your entire duvet, we’d like to come over and sleep inside it, please).
Place the sheets inside a plastic bag, so it doesn’t get covered in mushed peas or adopt an unappealing culinary scent, then pop them in the freezer for about ten minutes...or before the stalagmites begin to grow. It will help to lower your body temperature, which is a key requirement in sending your body to sleep. This only provides temporary respite, though. A cold hot water-bottle will last longer.
2. Turn your fan into a make-shift air con
You don’t need an air conditioning unit, it’s not the Sahara, guys. They’re expensive and hella bad for the environment. Here’s how to make your own: Pop a pan of ice in front of your fan and point it towards your bed. The circulating air will pass over the ice and cool you. As the ice starts to melt, this method will create a refreshing cooling mist. If that all sounds too messy for you, a standard fan will help a lot and encourage sweat to evaporate. Professor Jim Horne, of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University says “Direct the fan towards your face because your cheeks have the ability to release a lot of heat from your body.” The white noise of a fan can also help block out any irritating outside noise.
3. Keep it natural
Ditch the synthetics. Light, cotton bed linen is the most breathable fabric, and will increase ventilation, as well as wicking away perspiration from the skin. Mary Morrell, Professor of Sleep and Respiratory Physiology at Imperial College London told the BBC that cotton sheets are also more likely to absorb sweat, than polyester or silk ones.
4. Go Mediterranean
Be prepared for bedtime by doing as the Mediterraneans do: keep blinds or curtains closed during the day to keep the sun out, and open all windows once the sun has faded. Weather Expert, Philip Eden says: “I have the windows open on the shady side and closed on the sunny side. It means running round the house halfway through the day to close one side and open the other.”
Get some straws. Cling on to the long one. Whoever picks the short straw sleeps on the sofa. Sleeping in a separate bed from your partner will help you cool down during summer months – the human body generates the equivalent of 116 Watts of heat energy in an hour - you don’t need to double it. Also, spreading out rather than curling up is a more effective way of letting air circulate around your body and keeping cool while you sleep. Ever wondered why all your single friends arrive at work looking refreshed in the summer mornings? Singletons win hands-down at summer sleeping.
6. Keep it covered
Although stripping naked and letting it all hang out might seem like the most attractive option (figuratively speaking), it’s best to keep your PJs on. According to independent sleep expert, Dr Neil Stanley, pyjamas made of natural fibers ‘draw sweat away from your body…and will make you feel a lot cooler and more comfortable’ than sleeping naked.
7. Cold pressure points
If your sleep prep has failed to keep you snoring, and you wake feeling like you’ve descended into Dante’s inferno, then head to the freezer or a cold tap, and cool your pulse points on your wrists, neck, elbows and behind your ears. This will help to lower your body temperature so you can head back to bed.
And if you still can't doze off, have a listen to an audio book...it feels like your mum telling you a bedtime story.
Words: Harriet Hall