8 Tips For Getting to Sleep During a Heatwave

Nothing puts a damper on sleep quite like a heatwave. From endless tossing and turning to an inability to fall or stay asleep at all, steamy temperatures and humidity can make it nearly impossible to log your standard six to eight hours.

Per Psychology Today, that’s because a warm bedroom makes it harder for the body to shed heat and cool itself, which can disrupt your slow-wave and REM sleep — the two most important stages for adequate restoration. “The body does critical work to rejuvenate itself during these two stages, from repairing cells and strengthening the immune system to processing memory and emotions,” reports the publication. “Exposure to very warm and humid ambient temperatures can limit your body’s chance to do this important work.”

In other words, taking proactive steps to cool your environment and prepare your body for sleep during a heatwave before, during, and after bedtime is well worth your time. Ahead, find seven ways to cool your environment and catch some much needed Zzzs during a dreaded heatwave.

1. Invest in breathable bedding

When attempting to get some shut-eye during a heatwave, your bedding selection is incredibly important. The Sleep Foundation recommends investing in sheets and pillowcases made from natural, breathable materials, like linen. “These natural fibers offer better breathability than bedding made from polyester and other synthetic fabrics,” reports the organization. Remove any heavy blankets or comforters and just use lightweight sheets.

2. Wear loose, lightweight pajamas

Similarly, donning breathable linen pajamas (or even foregoing sleep clothes altogether) can help you stay cool during a heatwave. Consider a lightweight slip dress or linen t- shirt to prevent your body from overheating even further.

3. Stay hydrated

Dehydration can further impede sleep, so make sure you drink enough water on hot and humid days to set yourself up for success at night. Furthermore, keep a glass of ice water next to your bed in case the heat wakes you up throughout the night — it can help regulate your body temperature.

4. Keep your curtains and shades drawn throughout the day

While you can and should take advantage of cool morning air before the afternoon heat sets in, keep all windows, curtains, and shades drawn on after 10am or so to keep your home as cool as possible. If time allows, invest in blackout curtains for your bedroom to further block out sunlight on hot days.

5. Take a cool or lukewarm shower before bed

Take a cool shower before bed to lower your body temperature, and be sure to get your hair completely wet to fully reap the benefits. To take things one step further, soak your feet in cold water before you head off to sleep — heat escapes through your extremities, including your hands and feet, making this a particularly effective strategy.

6. Cue the fans

Assuming air conditioning isn’t an option, bring a few fans into your bedroom and make sure to keep the door open to promote airflow. Place a tray of ice cubes in front of the fan to further cool down the air and create a subtle mist. If you have any bathroom, ceiling, or attic fans, turn them on as well.

7. Keep a spray bottle, wet towel, or frozen ice pack near your bed

If you’re dealing with nighttime temperatures upwards of 85 degrees, it’s time to bring in reinforcements. Consider keeping a spray bottle, frozen ice pack, frozen gel eye mask, or wet towel on hand to help your body cool down throughout the night. You can even stow your sheets in a plastic bag and freeze them during the day to create a cool atmosphere come nighttime.

8. Consider relocating

Heat rises, so if your bedroom is on the second floor, consider setting up camp in your living room or preferably a basement during a heatwave. Relocating to a lower level can decrease the temperature by five to 10 degrees.

Next up: Are you sleeping too much? This is what happens to your body when you oversleep.

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