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How to sleep better on hot nights

Lots of Australians love the hot summer days, but warm summer nights can wreak havoc on our sleep — especially if you’re someone who doesn’t have air conditioning in your home.

For starters, it can take a lot longer to get to sleep. Tossing and turning are common as we attempt to escape from sweaty bedding and lower our body temperature. Even once you get to sleep, the quality of your sleep is likely to be affected which can lead to you feeling exhausted the next day.

Here are a few tips to help you get to — and stay — asleep on hot nights:

Cool down before bed

Trying to lower your body temperature before you hop into bed can go a long way towards helping you fall asleep.

Try drinking an ice-cold drink of water in the lead up to bedtime (although don’t drink too much — you don’t want to wake up needing the bathroom).

A cold shower can also be helpful, especially if you go to bed a little bit damp, which will further help in cooling you down.

Avoid caffeine

Caffeine can disrupt your sleep at the worst of times, let alone when you’re battling the heat.

Try avoiding caffeine after 3pm, and especially in the hours leading up to bed time.

Adjust your bedding

Now is the time to store away your doona and heavy blankets. While some people find the weight of heavy bedding comfortable, it can significantly impact your sleep during hot weather.

Try swapping heavier bedding for light, breathable cotton or linen sheets. Sleeping with just a top sheet and/or a light cotton throw will be much more comfortable and help prevent sweating and overheating.

On very hot nights, you may even consider placing your sheets in the freezer half an hour or so before you go to bed! Simply place them in a plastic bag and pop them in the freezer. They should stay nice and cold while you’re trying to fall asleep.

Use a fan

It’s not just the temperature of a room that affects how hot you feel, but also wind chill. Fans help circulate the air and push cool air across your skin, helping to make you feel cooler.

Try placing a fan on your bedside table or dresser, or use a column fan. A fan that oscillates (or moves from side to side) can help to spread the cool air across your body and the room — especially helpful for those sleeping with their partners.

Open your windows

Similar to a fan, leaving your windows open will help to create some airflow.

The temperature outside often drops as the night goes on, so leaving the windows open can help to cool the temperature of your room and allow in a fresh breeze.

Use an ice pack or cold cloth

Just as you might use a hot water bottle to keep you warm in the winter, you can use an ice pack to keep you cool in the summer.

Make sure to wrap the ice pack in a tea towel or cloth to keep the ice from making direct contact with your skin. Try placing the wrapped ice pack at your feet or even under your pillow.

A cold cloth can have a similar effect. Simply soak the cloth in cold water, wring out the excess and place it in the fridge. When it’s time to go to bed, place the cool cloth over your forehead, on your chest or anywhere on your body.

Check your pyjamas

Be sure to put those flannel pyjamas away with your doona! Summer is the time to wear loose-fitting pyjamas in breathable fabrics to help you keep cool.

Of course, you may wish to forego pyjamas altogether!

Rule out sleep disorders

It’s not just the hot weather that creates barriers to sleep. An estimated 1.5 million Australians have sleep disorders, with about half of these having obstructive sleep apnoea.

Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea include waking up in the morning with a headache, having poor concentration, daytime sleepiness, loud and persistent snoring, frequent visits to the bathroom, and choking or gasping for breath.

At Capital Chemist, we offer a Sleep Apnoea Service that helps to diagnose and treat obstructive sleep apnoea, with access to take-home equipment and expert advice.

Speak to your local Capital Chemist pharmacist to find out more.


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Capital Chemist acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.