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How to sleep during a heatwave, according to experts

Sarah Young

The UK experienced its second-hottest day on record when the mercury hit 38.1C in Cambridge on Thursday, which also made it the hottest July day ever.

With that in mind, many of us will be contemplating one of the biggest struggles that come with hot weather: how to get a good night’s sleep.

According to Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a sleep expert at Silentnight, the optimal bedroom temperature for sleeping is between 16C and 21C, and your brain needs to be slightly cooler than the rest of your body.

“A good night’s sleep is important in order to process information throughout the day as well as to repair and re-balance the body physically and mentally,” Ramlakhan tells The Independent.

“Ideally, in order for us to sleep well, there needs to be a fractional temperature difference between our body and our brain – a warm body and a cool head!”

With Britain set to swelter in the mid-30s during the day, it seems as though we might be way above optimum sleeping conditions.

So what can you do to cool yourself down and get some precious shut-eye?

Here are 20 ways to help you get to sleep when it’s hot:

1. Put your bedding in the freezer for a couple of minutes (put it in a plastic bag first though). If you don’t have much room in your fridge or freezer, even just your pillowcase or PJs will help.

2. Fill a hot water bottle with iced water and place on the ‘cooling points’ of your body: knees, ankles, wrists, neck, groin and elbows. You can also fill a hot water bottle with cool water, freeze it and take it to bed with you.

3. Moisturise before bed with an aloe vera based aftersun cream, ideally kept in the fridge.

4. Fill an empty perfume bottle with chilled water and keep it by your bedside, spray on your face, back of your neck, and back of your knees to cool down.

5. Use cotton pyjamas and thin, pure cotton sheets for your bed - high quality cotton is the ideal bedding material to sleep between to stay cool as it’s most breathable.

6. Make sure you’re not eating too much protein as this can actually heat your body up by boosting your metabolic rate, according to sleep expert Dave Gibson.

7. Eat spicy food, but at least three hours before bed - it can make you sweat which cools the body down.

8. Exercise in the morning rather than evening to stop your body getting too hot.

9. Keep your evening shower tepid to lower your body temperature. Don’t have a freezing cold one though, as your body will react to the sudden change in temperature by preserving heat.

10. Contrary to popular belief, Gibson says we should keep windows closed during the day to keep the house cooler. Keep the curtains closed too.

11. Turn off all electrical devices in the bedroom as these emit heat. Switch off sockets too.

12. Keep your feet cool, either by keeping them outside the covers or resting on an ice pack.

13. Put a roasting pan full of ice in front of a fan to cool the air.

14. Drink water regularly during the day, but not too much at night. About ½ pint before bed will be enough to keep you hydrated and prevent you from having to get up and go to the loo.

15. Sleep in a separate bed from your partner - two bodies = twice the body heat.

16. Sleep downstairs if you can as heat rises.

17. Sleep in cool, wet socks or even a damp T-shirt.

18. Rinse your wrists and feet with cold water before getting into bed.

19. If you wake up in the night, rub a menthol stick on your forehead to help cool down, Dr Ramlakhan recommends.

20. Place a wet flannel in the fridge for an hour or so before you go to bed, and rest this on your forehead as you drift off.

You can read more about the upcoming heatwave here.