How to sleep in a Heatwave
Hot Tips on Staying Cool in the Heat
Some you won't believe...
This summer is a record breaker, sadly for all the wrong reasons. The warmth is enjoyable, but only up to a point. This heat is so rare for us in the UK that we often mistakenly do the opposite of what we should. Sleeplessness is one of the banes of extreme heat, so here is a comprehensive round-up of ways to prepare your environment and yourself to ease the problem.
Shut it out and let it out
Unless your rooms are directed away from the sun and it is actually cooler outside, keep windows, curtains and doors closed to shut out the radiant heat. Open them only when it’s cooler, after dark, and allow windows in lower rooms to let cooler air in and upper windows to convect the heat out, but beware of hot pavements and terraces still radiating heat after dark too. Sticking temporary tinfoil to your windows is rather extreme but is even more effective than closing the curtains. Remember skylights too. If you can open them safely, they can be very useful for letting trapped heat out of the top floor.
Houseplants are your friends and in your bedroom, they help to calm the space and even detox the air. They won’t produce more oxygen for you at night, but if you have enough of them they can help with chapped lips, dry throat, sinuses and skin.
Don’t exercise or do anything too strenuous late in the day. Early exercise is associated with better relaxation in the evenings, leading to better sleep.
Cool your boots
Or more specifically your ankles and wrists. The blood runs close to the surface here. Cooling them is a shortcut to some rapid internal body cooling. Running wrists under cold water or having a basin of icy water near the bed for your feet is surprisingly effective. Just don’t trip over it at the night.
Avoid cold showers
Yes, really. Apart from your regular early morning cold shower, of course, which may even help you live longer. Having a really cold shower late in the day causes an adrenalin spike which can actually raise the body temperature. You’ll only find out too late when you wonder why you’re sweating again so keep your showers cooling, but not bracing.
Don't siesta, keep it regular
Exhausted by the heat, you may feel like an afternoon nap, but, unless it's your normal routine, don't do it. Upsetting your sleeping routine is the last thing you need just now.
Watch what you drink and eat
Booze and caffeine are out. Cheese is well known to require heavy digestion which can raise the body temperature. Just as that camembert is running off the board, resist the temptation to tidy it up. Less protein in the evenings can help you sleep better. Keep hydrated with still water only. Avoid fizzy drinks too as they also require digestion.
Take a Hot Water Bottle to bed
Amazing but true. Just don't fill it with hot water. Half-fill and freeze, wrap in a small wool throw (far better than cotton towels for absorption and desorption) or use one of our strangely cooling sheepskin hot water bottle covers (put it on the bottle before freezing it though or it won’t fit). Put it in bed early and move it down to your ankles when it’s time to join it. Whilst you are at it you may as well put your pillowcase in the freezer. You’ll love the effect when it is back on your pillow.
Refrigerate a wet flannel earlier in the day. When you are in bed it is a wonderfully cooling thing to have on your forehead.
Ditch the Duvet
Obviously. Especially if it is manmade fibre, feathers or down. Go for pure linen or cotton empty duvet cover if possible. Avoid all manmade fibre bedding. Polycottons don't wick, they stick. Pure cotton or linen sheet and, surprisingly, a single wool blanket is often better than an empty duvet cover because even in the heat, the wool which is Mother Nature’s technical fibre wicks better than all the others and can actually help cool you and you'll be less likely to be woken when it gets cooler around 5 am, although it works better next to the skin than through a sheet
Get a cooling wool mattress topper
Strange but true. Most modern mattresses are covered in manmade fibre casings and/or sticky non-breathable latest or foam. Terrible in the heat because they stick not wick. However, you can avoid spending £2,000 on a pure wool mattress because one of our Pure Wool Mattress toppers (about the only ones available that don’t have polypropylene interlining) will work for you all night in this heat. The microclimate that wool creates is what has kept sheep warm in the cold and cool in the heat for some 10,000 years. It works just as well for us humans. Instead of sticking to your mattress, float above it whilst thanking and counting the countless sheep that brought it to you, and you to sleep.
Pyjamas or Naked?
This is more of a personal choice. Pyjama suit or birthday suit? Try it either way. But BUPA thinks you may find the pyjamas help you feel more comfortable, especially if you are sweating anyway. Always avoid manmade fibre in your pyjamas though. Linen, cotton or lightweight wool only.
Bed, Sex & Sleep
Yes, Yes, YES! Sex, or more specifically orgasm, is great for sleep. This is known. Maybe not so much swinging from the chandeliers in this heat though; keep it cool. And afterwards, remember to keep your bedroom as your bedroom; only for sex and sleep. As my favourite TV doctor, Dr Michael Mosley says, “The advice is broadly the 15-minute rule. If you are still awake after 15 minutes, get up and do something boring until you feel sleepy and then go back to bed. The rule is to associate bed with sleep and sex and nothing else. No Twitter, no TV, nothing else."
If you have the luxury of a spare bed or bedroom, sleep alone and go full starfish. Getting away from the radiant heat of your partner’s body can work wonders. Some specialists, although not all, have shown that those who sleep apart often sleep better, especially in the heat.
Just chill out
No, I’m not being facetious. Dr Neil Stanley, author of “How to Sleep Well - The Science of Sleeping Smarter, Living Better and Being Productive” says, “Worrying about getting to sleep is one of the biggest obstacles to good sleep. So enjoy the weather and pretend that the busy road outside your house is a lovely Thai beach. You’ll be sound asleep in no time”.
Use Waking Up to go to sleep
Better still, start meditating the wrong way - in bed. Sam Harris’s meditation app will certainly help you nod off. Named, in this case very ironically Waking Up, the app is great at what it does, but as long as you ignore Sam’s instructions to meditate sitting in a chair and use it in bed instead, it will certainly help you nod off. Lying down is well known for disrupting meditation with, of all things… sleep.
The Wool Company blanket surprise
Warm evenings, cold nights, young kids (both human and goat), young business, big hopes, little knowledge. Poor sleep. Sweating at night. So began our first summer with The Wool Company in 2007.
As the summer continued we noticed to our surprise a sudden rush to buy our wool blankets. We were, of course, delighted but we were flummoxed, so we called our customers and asked them why... Without exception, they said they were overheating at night and were too hot under their duvets. Everyone we asked thought they would sleep better under one or two wool blankets. Eureka! Ever since we have always kept a good summer stock of wool blankets for poor sleepers who are struggling to sleep in the heat.
We looked into it further and found that for sure this was a thing. Read more on how to sleep in hot weather and avoid overheating while sleeping.
Why wool blanket is the best blanket for summer?
Summer days and long hot evenings come at a price: hot, sweaty nights that leave you twisting and turning, kicking off the covers, only to wake up chilly in the wee hours of the morning. These challenges lead us to hunt for reasons and tips for sleeping in hot weather, and we frequently discover that our sleeping arrangements are just wrong.
Because most duvets are made of plastic/petrochemical fibres (or down), they become hot and sweaty when the temperature increases, causing us to be more awake and not keeping us cool at night to get a good night's sleep.
Other than our pure wool duvets which are different of course, the not-so-secret secret of sleeping well in hot weather is summer blankets made from wool because it keeps you in your "thermal comfort zone" better than any other fibre.
So, how to sleep in the heat? When we sleep under, over, on, or in wool, the heart rate actually lowers: we enjoy a more restful night’s sleep and wake the next morning refreshed. Bouncy.
This is due to wool’s extraordinary thermoregulatory powers that make it the perfect textile for hot sticky nights.
Our bodies keep cool by releasing moisture onto the skin which by then evaporating, cools us.
Cool wool blankets for summer act like an extension to our skin, increasing the cooling effect by absorbing water vapour, yet still magically feeling dry.
It’s normal to lose around half a litre of moisture even on a cold night, but because highly breathable wool wicks away so much water vapour from our skin, it cools us down, and keeps us dry, not sticky. And asleep! For those nights when we want to cocoon ourselves under a cover just to feel secure and it’s too hot for a duvet, a natural wool blanket is perfect.
Science supports sleeping with light wool blankets for summer
If you're interested in the science, the key findings of a recent University of Sydney research study show that a duvet made from wool is the best blanket for summer sleeping:
- Sleeping in wool in summer resulted in less total wake time for poor sleepers after sleep began
- Sleeping in wool resulted in less fragmented sleep compared to other fabrics, especially between wool and polyester sleepwear
- Wool reduced the time taken to get to sleep compared with sleeping in cotton and polyester for older participants aged 65 or more
- Overall, wool performed better than cotton and polyester.
Cellular Best Seller
Sometimes there’s just no improving on perfection. Our best-selling Wool Cellular Blanket is traditional yet outperforms all modern so-called ‘technical fibres’.
These British-made Pure New Wool Blankets have been manufactured in Bradford by A W Hainsworth since 1828, so you can expect yours to last a lifetime. The cellular structure traps enough warm air within the knit but still breathes, preventing you from overheating. We think you'll sleep like a baby with this breathable summer blanket, which is very light in weight and trimmed with the softest satin.
Make mine a merino
We use the finest Australian merino lambswool for our ultra-fine, light as a feather, smooth as silk merino wool blankets. Merino wool is the best fabric for summer heat since the wool fibres are naturally long, resulting in a sturdy, soft yarn that is long-lasting, keeps you cool and drapes over the bed so gracefully that you'll want to Insta it right away. Our range also includes the best of British (woven in Yorkshire), Italian, and French superfine merino lambswool. We recommend the Lightweight Merino Blanket from John Atkinson for summer months or if you live in warmer climates. All their blankets are manufactured from raw wool to the hand-finished product at the mill in West Yorkshire.
When only the finest will do, our cashmere blankets made in England are simply divine. The thermal regulatory qualities are the same as for sheep’s wool, but this extraordinarily soft cashmere is carefully combed in the Spring from the bellies of goats that live high up in the Mongolian grasslands, by their nomadic goatherds. The result is a super soft, light and airy blanket, finished with a silk binding. Luxe. Comfort
Wool inside and out
When you’re not sleeping with your new best lightweight blanket for summer, you’ll be sure to find it thrown casually over sofas, armchairs, or the garden chair, ready for an evening under the stars… Let us know if you need help choosing which wool blanket is best for you. Drop us a line.
Plastic or Fantastic?
Wool comforters that keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, are not only comfortable but also environmentally friendly. Find out more here.
Please contact us if you need assistance in determining how to stay cool while sleeping and which wool blanket is best for you. and drop us a line.
Thank you This is what my grandmother told me but over the years I’d forgotten and followed the trend to many uncomfortable nights
I have a lovely goose down duvet, but I can only cope with it in deepest (Scottish) winter. The rest of the year, I rely on one or two of (your) lightweight wool blankets!