Get naked, don’t snuggle and avoid the bedroom until you’re yawning.
Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation is issuing hot tips to get a decent night’s slumber as the mercury climbs to new heights this summer.
“These hot nights can take a heavy toll on your sleep,” says Professor Dorothy Bruck, sleep expert and Chair of the foundation, the leading national advocate for sleep health. “Sweltering temperatures make it difficult to fall asleep, wake you often in the night and leave you feeling drained and exhausted by morning.”
Research shows humans sleep most soundly when the temperature is 17 to 19 degrees Celsius. When the temperatures soar there are several easy and cost-effective tricks you can use to cool your body and ensure you get your 40 winks, the foundation says.
Many Australians will be familiar with the benefits of ventilation - an open window or a fan to get the air moving in the room. But there are several other tips many people overlook. “Stripping down definitely helps,” says Professor Bruck. “Swap your nightshirt or nightgown for a sleeveless top, skimpy shorts, underwear, or even better, nothing at all.” Cotton sheets and clothing will keep you cooler than synthetic fabrics, she adds.
The foundation’s sleep experts also recommend a cool shower before bed, and have another if you’re wakeful in the night. Try wiping your hands and face on a cold face-washer before bed and let your feet stick out from under your sheet or doona in the middle of the night.
“If you can get the temperature of your hands and feet right then chances are you’ll get to sleep quickly and stay asleep,” the sleep specialist says. If you’re using a sheet only, keep a lightweight doona nearby so you find easily when your body temperature drops lowest between 3am and 5am.
Obviously, air conditioning or evaporative cooling will help, but this is a more expensive solution.
The Sleep Health Foundation also advises people not to hit the sack too early. “It usually takes longer to fall asleep when you’re hot, so don’t go to bed too early,” Professor Bruck says. “In fact don’t go to bed until you actually feel quite sleepy.“
Dehydration and sunburn will both harm your sleep so ensure you drink plenty of water through the day and follow the Slip, Slop, Slap sun protection guidelines.
Lastly, avoid getting too cosy with your bed partner. “It might be romantic but curling up with your beloved will make it very hard to sleep,” she says. “When you cuddle you’ve got to contend with your partner’s body heat as well as your own.”
The foundation has published guidelines for safe and successful sleeping on hot nights on its website. View them here.
Hot Nights Survival Guide
• Get air circulating over your skin. An open window or fan are both effective
• Have a cool shower before bed
• Use cotton sheets and clothing
• Strip off totally to get your body temperature down
• Let your bed partner know cuddling is not conducive to a good night’s sleep
• Have a warmer bedcover close by for when your body cools down overnight
• Don’t get dehydrated or sunburnt during the day
• Stop your bedroom getting too warm during the day - Heavy drapes or blinds pulled all day can keep the room cool when it’s forecast to be hot
About Sleep Health Foundation
The Sleep Health Foundation is Australia’s leading advocate for sleep health. The Foundation aims to improve people’s sleep and their lives by promoting healthy sleep, raising awareness of sleep disorders and building partnerships with organisations. Free, independent, expert reviewed fact sheets on every aspect of sleep are available here.
For more information or interview requests, contact on (02) 8814 8655.