We all know that good sleep is an essential part of staying healthy but as temperatures start to rise we get concerned about getting a good night’s rest. Research is clear; high temperatures mean that we find it harder to get to sleep and if we do manage to we find it harder to stay asleep.
Poor sleep can cause a range of physical and mental health problems and can really impact on our quality of life. Our body needs sleep to carry out essential repairs and keep our body and brain functioning well. The effects of a bad night are immediate – feelings of tiredness and irritability start the following day, but in the long term it can cause more serious health problems.
Here are the top 5 ways you can get great sleep during a heat wave:
1. Keep Cool
Around 21% of people find they are too hot at night. Instead of opening the window a fan will provide ‘white noise’, a sound frequency that has been shown to aid sleep. Opening the window may allow in a breeze but it can also mean you are exposed to noise or light that can negatively impact your sleep quality.
2. Focus on Quality as well as Quantity of Sleep.
We are all individuals and what is a normal amount of sleep for one is not necessarily what we all need. For adults, we would expect around 7-9 hours a night, but children and babies need much more. If you don’t get good quality sleep you will still feel tired the following day, even if you slept for a good amount of time.
3. Concentrate on Comfort
A good quality mattress, duvet and pillow are a solid investment. We sleep for around a third of our lives so make sure your bed gives you maximum comfort. If you find your neck and/or shoulders are sore in the morning you will need to adjust the height of your pillow which should be just right to maintain the natural curve in the neck.
4. Avoid Light Pollution
Light is an important part of the way our body regulates our sleep cycle. If light is an issue in your bedroom then invest in blackout blinds or heavy, lined curtains which can prevent any unwanted light getting in and affecting your sleep.
5. Get some help
If you are still awake and you don’t think things are getting better you go and speak to a sleep professional. A pharmacist, for example, can provide a great deal of advice and make recommendations for a short-term solution. This will break the insomnia cycle and help you towards better sleep.
Among some of the other useful ways of combating a bad sleep cycle are herbs like valerian root, and supplements such as melatonin and 5-HTP which have been shown to have a role in regulating a normal sleep cycle.
Always make sure you stay hydrated too – we continue to lose moisture when we sleep, more so when it is hot, and this can affect both the quantity and quality of our rest.