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Too hot to sleep? Our ideas on how to get some sleep in the middle of a heat wave.


Some nights, we think that air conditioning is a good idea. Especially when at 9pm, it's still over 30°C. But rather than to try and buy air conditioning in a heatwave there are other ideas you can try.  We tested some easy ideas that you can put into practice. And we're telling you: it's possible to sleep in the middle of a heat wave even without an air conditioner.

Circulate fresh air

The quest starts early, very early. Just after sunrise, when the sun's rays are not yet sufficient to warm the earth, the air temperature is the lowest of the day. This is the best time to open the windows wide and cool down your home. And at the end of the morning, or as soon as the sun approaches the facade, we close the shutters, the curtains and even the windows to avoid the entry of hot air.

If you got up too late, there is still the draught option. Nothing could be easier when you live in a house. In this case, the windows closest to the ground allow the coolest air to enter. In an apartment, it is less obvious but still feasible. The stairwell, often not very exposed to the sun, remains cooler than the apartments. If there are windows, you can open them to let the air circulate. And if you spend the day at home, you can even half-open your door for a few moments to take advantage of it.

canicule paris

Changing your bed to summer time

Adapting your bed to the season is ideal for maximizing your chances of finding sleep. There's no need to move it to the coldest room (which can make it very hot). It is rather on the side of the bed linen that all is played.

Synthetic materials, like polyester, retain moisture and heat. It is difficult for the body to cool down in these conditions. Natural, absorbent and breathable materials are preferred. Cotton percale sheets, fine and cool to the touch, are very pleasant in summer. But in hot weather, our favorite fabric is linen. Its fibers have a thermoregulatory action: they absorb and evacuate heat and perspiration, which helps the body to maintain the right temperature. We like to wear it during the day and sleep in it at night.

lin lave francais

You can also literally cool your bed. Half an hour before going to sleep, you can put a hot water bottle filled with very cold water, ice packs, cold packs... Anything that will bring a little freshness, even if it's only for the time it takes to fall asleep. It seems that you can even give your sheets a little stay in the freezer before making your bed. We did not test it but the idea is tempting.

A little advice from the Royal Navy...

Did you know that immersing your hands in cold water could make you feel cooler faster? Here's a tip you won't soon forget! You can lose up to one degree for every 10 minutes you spend with your hands in 15°C water. This technique was tested and approved by the Royal Navy in the 1990's, as well as by athletes today...

plonger les mains dans de l’eau froide

Put your pajamas in the freezer

In order to enjoy your nights, even in hot weather, we advise you to opt for the magic solution: the pyjamas in the freezer. Put them in the freezer for a few hours, then take them out before going to bed. You'll be telling us all about it! As you probably already know, it's also a good idea to wear light, loose-fitting clothing during the day, as well as a hat and sunglasses. Beware of sunstroke and UV rays!

Put ice on strategic points

In order to cool down, it can be interesting to target the blood vessels close to the surface of the skin. To do this, place an ice cube on your wrists and the side of your neck. Beware of burns! We advise you to place the ice cube in a cloth or a piece of fabric.

Cooling off before bedtime

To fall asleep, our internal temperature must decrease by about 1°C. This biological process is a challenge in the height of summer, especially since the hottest part of the day is in the late afternoon, between 4 and 6 p.m. A good excuse to cancel the sports class scheduled for this evening. Or postpone it to the next day and let off steam in the cooler hours of the day.

To get a good night's sleep, it is essential to stay well hydrated throughout the day. Doctors say it, newspapers say it, news channels say it, your parents say it, but we can't say it enough. Drinking (water) allows the body to sweat to regulate its internal temperature and to compensate for dehydration, which is more frequent when nights are too short. In fact, a study conducted in the United States and China(1) has shown that nights of less than 6 hours increase the risk of dehydration by 16 to 59% in adults. We should therefore make sure that we drink enough water at room temperature, which is more quickly assimilated by the body.

For dinner, there is only one watchword: freshness. Avoid turning on a heat source (oven, hotplates, etc.) so as not to heat up the room. And just before bedtime, a warm shower allows you to cool down without getting cold, and without encouraging your body to warm up right after. You can keep a mister handy during the night to replicate the same effect. And if you share a bed, it may be best to sleep in separate rooms just for the night.

What if you still can't sleep?

When our lifestyle allows it, we don't hesitate to shift our sleep rhythm by a few hours. Going to bed later and sleeping a little longer, when the air is more breathable, is ideal. Taking a short nap in the afternoon also helps you recover after a short night. And when insomnia persists, why not take advantage of the slight drop in temperature at night to get some fresh air? In Paris, 13 parks and gardens are open 24 hours a day in summer, and they are even more numerous during the heat wave. And some museums are too. A nice way to ride the heat wave.

paris l'ete canicule

(1)Short sleep duration is associated with inadequate hydration: cross-cultural evidence from US and Chinese adults, Asher Y Rosinger, Anne-Marie Chang, Orfeu M Buxton, Junjuan Li, Shouling Wu,Xiang Gao, Sleep, Volume 42, Issue 2, February 2019.