How can we sleep better when it’s hot?

What can we do to improve our sleep on days when the heat is unbearable

Heat can make sleep unbearable. Ideally, our body temperature starts to drop slightly about an hour or two before we fall asleep to help us drift off to sleep, says Leslie Swanson, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at the Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory. at the University of Michigan. This internal cooling helps us reach a deep, restorative stage of sleep known as slow-wave sleep or “Delta sleep.”

But when the ambient temperature is high, it prevents our body temperature from dropping as fast as we want to sleep more comfortably. Not only does this make it difficult to fall asleep, but it can also cause you to wake up frequently during the night.

What can we do to improve our sleep when the weather is hot?

Do everything you can to cool your bedroom

“We tend to sleep more deeply in a cool bedroom,” says Philip Gehrman, a clinical psychologist at the Penn Sleep Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He even noted that some people turn on the air conditioner once summer arrives because it keeps their bedroom cooler than in spring or fall.

Create air flow in the room

If you don’t have an air conditioner, use a fan to help circulate the air in your room. Pulmonary resuscitation and sleep medicine specialist at North-West Medicine Dr. Justin Fiala says increased air flow over the body’s surface helps dissipate heat.

Stay hydrated

If you can’t lower the temperature in your room, your body will turn to another way to cool down: sweating.

Keep some water by your bed so you can replace any fluids you lose.

Use light bedding

While it may be tempting to ditch all the covers when the weather gets hot, the best way to help your body regulate temperature is to use a light sheet or summer blanket, experts say. However, make sure it is a cover that you can easily throw on or remove, e.g. to cool your feet.

Avoid cold showers before bed

While taking a cold shower will help cool your body down, it won’t help you sleep better.

“It has not been proven to be effective, and it can act as a stimulant,” says Dr. Fiala.

Cold water can be a shock to the body, keeping you awake for longer.

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