London heatwave: Tips for getting to sleep

Paragraph Record for hottest July day may be broken on Thursday

Londoners are bracing themselves for some of the hottest July days ever experienced in the capital starting today (July 23).

Getting to sleep may be easier said than done!

We Brits just aren’t very good at coping with weather extremes. In heavy snow we struggle to get to work. In extreme heat who wants to go to work anyway?

We’re in for a short period of the latter. 

As someone who lived in a hot country for a decade (Thailand) I confess to being something of an air-cond king. I used to hop from an a/c home to an a/c office and back in an air-conditioned car. And to cool down at the end of the day I might find myself in an air-conditioned bar. Strange that! Just for two or three cool ones. Almost medicinal, you understand.

The bar had to have an a/c and be fully enclosed. Street bars open to the elements were ones to ignore. Steaming while you get steaming is not my idea of fun.

The London Eye will be especially popular with tourists over the coming days. Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Since I came back to the UK a few years ago I have often wondered why air-conditioning in the home does not seem to have caught on here. We wouldn’t consider buying a home without central heating, but why not the same attitude towards central cooling? The next few days will have more people pondering this, I suspect.

While we all pay lip-service to the idea that hot weather is great, when it comes to getting some sleep at the end of the day our opinions may change. Night temperatures are predicted to stay in the low 20s for the next few days.

James Wilson

Here we list some tips which have kindly been supplied to us by the man who has become known as the Sleep Geek, James Wilson, who advises that our body temperature is incredibly important to good quality sleep, as a drop in heart rate and drop in core temperature are part of the process the body goes through when getting ready for sleep. The hot weather impacts on our ability to do both. 

Below are some tips on how to get the best sleep possible on the hottest night of the year (predicted for Thursday):

1. Ensure there is a good airflow through the house. Open windows on both sides to allow the air to pass through. Be mindful that you may be letting in more than just air (I added the bit in italics).

2. Close blinds and curtains in rooms that are exposed to direct sunlight. The shade will help the room stay cooler.

3. Have a lukewarm bath or shower before bed to encourage your core temperature to drop, or alternatively put lukewarm water in a hot water bottle and place the soles of your feet on it.

4. If using a fan, place a bowl of chilled water in front of it to cool the stream of air it’s pushing around the room.

5. Don’t put bedding or pyjamas in the fridge-freezer, funnily enough some people do this (although who has a freezer big enough to put a duvet in?). It will add more moisture to your sleep environment and that moisture will heat up and make you even warmer.

6. If you are using a cotton sheet ensure it is as low a thread count as possible. The higher the thread count, the less breathable it is. Cotton is okay in hot weather, although it isn’t that great at wicking the moisture away; James would suggest using bamboo. It has longer fibres so breathes better and doesn’t lint so people with skin conditions are not as aggravated – it is also lighter on the body.​

7. Finally, don’t worry too much about it. The biggest thing that prevent us sleeping in hot weather is the thought “I am too hot to sleep”. James’ advice would be to suck it up, accept that you might not sleep quite as well, but that it will probably be over in a couple of days and your body will more than likely make up for the poor sleep by giving you better quality sleep once the temperature drops.

For more information on James Wilson, aka The Sleep Geek, visit www.thesleepgeek.co.uk

Main sleeping image by Dieter Robbins from Pixabay 

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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