Warm weather during the day is something that most people crave, but it can often be the exact opposite when it comes to night-time. Warm weather at night makes sleeping incredibly difficult for some people, and in this guide, Sleep Scientist Dr Rebecca Robbins, the in-house sleep expert at Savoir Beds, explains how best to sleep in the heat.
We all know just how vital sleep is to the body. As a reminder, sleep is critical for our immune system, brains, and bodies; sleep is also crucial for our mood, productivity, and quality of our lives. Warmer weather frequently disrupts sleep, and Dr Rebecca Robbins has kindly offered us some timely advice on the best ways to ensure you can get yours.
Go easy on the Caffeine: Good sleep starts as soon as we wake up. What we do during the day (or do not do) matters for our sleep at night. During the day, monitor your caffeine consumption. You do not want to have more than 2 cups of coffee or doses of caffeine any later than 2 pm if you want to fall asleep between 10 or 11 pm.
Make time for exercise! – Those who exercise regularly get better sleep.
Manage your stress: Stress is all around us, but how we react to stressful experiences determines if they will negatively affect our lives. Consider starting a brief mindfulness practice in the afternoon to ease tension and stress.
Eat Well: Nutrition is linked with our sleep. Ideally, you want to have a hearty breakfast and lunch and a lighter dinner. A dinner that is too heavy or consumed too close to bedtime can interfere with our ability to fall asleep. Endeavour to have your last meal 2 hours at least before bed. Then, transition to soothing herbal tea.
The bedroom environment is vital for our good quality rest – Ensure that you have a mattress that is supportive of your head, neck, and spinal column at night. The mattress is, of course, the foundation of our good sleep. An unsupportive mattress, or a mattress that retains heat, will limit the quality of your sleep. Also, ensure your curtains can close, and your bedroom can be completely dark when you are attempting to sleep. Whereas bright light wakes us up, darkness is what allows the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin to secrete in the brain.
In addition to the above, Dr Rebecca Robbins has offered a few additional tips:
Temperature – “A cooler temperature is optimal for sleep; 18/19 degrees is optimal. Your sleep can be disturbed, and you may even wake up if the temperature of your bedroom or sleep environment is too hot and rises above 23.8°C (75°F). Your body’s ability to regulate temperature is a big part of how it regulates sleep. During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the brain’s temperature regulating cells switch off, and your surroundings impact your temperature.
If your bedroom is too warm and stuffy or your sleeping surface is unable to breathe and disperse moisture, you may begin to sweat and overheat at this stage. Effectively, your body temperate may start to rise and disturb your sleep.” Dr Rebecca Robbins
Bedtime Routine: With longer, brighter nights, getting to bed at a normal time is easy to miss as we tend to stay out longer and eat dinner later. Dr Rebecca Robbins advises us to commit to a bedtime routine and stick to it. We all know that we should aim for between seven to nine hours a night, something science tells us is optimum for most adults. But while duration is one aspect, Dr Robbins says focusing on consistency around our sleep routine is far more productive, particularly in warm weather when our sleep might be more easily disrupted.
“Falling asleep at the same time and waking up at the same time is everything. The reason is that it allows the body to work with – rather than fight – its natural circadian rhythm, our body’s internal 24-hour clock that controls the timings of every organ system and bodily process. If we stick to a schedule, our body learns when to expect sleep and wakefulness. Any more than an hour’s difference to your normal schedule and you will actually impose jetlag-like symptoms on your brain.” Dr Rebecca Robbins.
Don’t Count Sheep If You Wake: Lying in bed awake, hot and bothered at 3 am is one of life’s greatest frustrations. However, just hoping to drift back to sleep could be counterproductive. “It’s something many of us were told to do – stay in bed if we wake up. But as a sleep scientist, I realised that it’s one of the worst things that we can do if we’re struggling to sleep,” Dr Robbins says.
Instead, she advises getting up after 15 minutes, keeping the lights low and either doing some gentle yoga, reading or doing some non-stimulating tasks, like folding laundry, before returning to bed. Studies show that getting out of bed if you struggle to get back to sleep can actually help you nod off sooner. “We want to keep the bed as the place where sleep happens,” she says.
Invest in good-quality natural bed linens and mattresses: “Many sleep-related neurons are highly temperature sensitive, so an unsupportive mattress, or a mattress which retains heat, will limit the quality of your sleep. Good air quality and a breathable sleeping surface made from natural materials can help prevent you from overheating. Natural fibres are great for wicking away moisture. They are also breathable and allow airflow, keeping you cool during the warmer nights.” Dr Rebecca Robbins.
Choosing a bed, mattress and bedding from naturally breathable and thermo-regulating materials is important for maintaining a cool body temperature – which helps you sleep longer, according to a study reported in the journal Nature And Science Of Sleep. Savoir has always been dedicated to using natural fibres that support sleep by helping regulate the body’s temperature and wick away moisture.
Dr Rebecca Robbins five non-negotiables:
- Open a window if you live in a quiet place and allow the natural night-time, cooler air to flow in.
- Use a fan to help with the airflow.
- Swap heavy bead clothes or linens in favour of lighter fabrics. Natural particles and fibres are generally better for breathability, so select these where possible.
- Check your sleep surface. If you find that, after making healthy changes to your sleep routine and environment, you still wake up hot, it could be that your mattress builds heat, so consider investing in a bed that promotes airflow.
- Take a short, warm shower, then go into your cool bedroom environment, which will accelerate the cooking of your internal body temperature and help with sleep.
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