How to sleep in a heatwave: 10 tips to keep you cool . . .

ImageWith summer into full swing night-time temperatures are rising – possibly to the point where they affect your sleep. Patsy Westcott shares her 10 top tips on how to keep cool and rested . . .

“Seeing as we’re all about Brazil at the moment let me confess that the hottest night I ever spent – alas, not in THAT sense – was in a tower block in Rio de Janeiro. Arriving in the middle of the night with nowhere booked my partner and I fell into the clutches of a dodgy taxi driver who took us to an apartment of a ‘friend’ in even dodgier area of the city. A hot, airless room, ten floors up in a cramped flat with flimsy walls, no air conditioning, and the sound of TVs blaring and people shouting made for a sleepless night – and an object lesson in how not to sleep when the temperature is soaring.  Read on for some winning tips on how to get some shut-eye when it’s hot, hot, hot….

1. Shutter it out. In every tropical country the shutters are shut during the heat of the day and the windows open. If you don’t have shutters use blackout blinds or curtains and close them during the part of the day when the sun is on your bedroom. Open windows on the cool shady side of your house or flat and change as the sun moves round.

2. Open up. Keep windows and indoor doors open at night on both sides of the house to get an air flow going.

3. Fan away. OK it is said that fans just move the hot air around but in the absence of an air-conditioning unit they can help to evaporate sweat. One idea that crops up regularly on other sleep websites is to fill a shallow container, such as a roasting tin, with ice cubes and position in front of the fan. The idea is that as the ice melts the cool air gets wafted out into the room. I haven’t tried it – yet – but apparently it works like a kind of DIY air-conditioning.

4. Chillow out. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post but I’m a great fan of the Chillow, a cooling pad you fill with tap water, which is absorbed into its foam core and cools and soothes. You can slip inside your pillow case and use it to keep you cool on the hottest summer nights. (They are not paying me for this plug btw!)

5. Watch what you drink. Tea, coffee, cola and – sorry to be a killjoy – alcohol are all dehydrating, which can put your body under heat stress and make you hotter in bed (and not in a good way). Go for herbal teas and water.  Taking a flask of cool water to bed with you to sip on during the night.

6. Have a (lukewarm) shower before bed. Tempting though it is to hurl yourself into a cold shower before turning in this is actually counter productive because it causes the blood vessels to close down which raises your core temperature. Lukewarm is best.

7. Join the cotton club. Cotton bed clothes will help keep you cooler than polyester or cotton-poly blends. Use a thin cotton sheet or a summer weight (1.5-3 tog) cotton-filled duvet. The House of Bath does a good one)

8. Sleep outside. If you have a secure garden or balcony you could find it cooler to sleep outside.

9. Spread out. Sleeping with arms and legs spread-eagled on the bed is cooler than curling up as you’re creating a greater surface area for sweat to evaporate off.

10. Go down. Heat rises so if your dwelling has more than one storey sleeping lower down could be a cool idea.”

Have any of these suggestions worked for you or do you have a tip of your own to share?

© Patsy Westcott. Image © Andrii Salivon –

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4 Responses to How to sleep in a heatwave: 10 tips to keep you cool . . .

  1. We’ve just switched from summer weight duvets to cotton sheets (always high thread count Egyptian cotton) with cellular wool blankets. Enough coverage but without the bulk of the duvet. Just right!

  2. Curzon Tussaud says:

    a hot-water-bottle filled with cold water and ice cubes is good to take to bed with you on sticky nights.

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