The summer weather has finally decided to join us here in the UK, and while many of our international clients will be well used to sleeping in warmer climes, those based here will be less so. Therefore, over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be looking at some of the tips and techniques that can help you sleep a little more easily during those warm and muggy nights.
The first part of our summer sleeping tips will look at the more conventional ways of keeping cool without the use of an air conditioning unit, and how the bed, bedroom environment and bed clothes can all influence how warm or cool you feel at night. The second part will list some of the quirkier ideas that are shared on the internet for keeping cool at night.
How hot is your bed?
The main reason why summer temperatures may play havoc with our sleep is because when the ambient temperature is too warm our body has to work hard to try to cool us. This busy body means that we become restless and experience poor quality sleep. If you’re on holiday then this may not be a problem as you can simply take nap or the odd siesta throughout the day to make up for sleep deprivation, but when you have a business or family to run then it can impact on your quality of daily life.
The fillings that are inside your mattress play a big part in how warm you are at night. Memory foam, for example, needs and retains your body heat to mould to the shape of your body. The warmer you become, the softer the mattress becomes, and the more the mattress moulds and encloses you. So you end up surrounded by warm foam that may cause and will definitely exacerbate nigh-sweating. Our frank advice – avoid memory foam and choose a wool-based mattress if you can! And if it is Egyptian cotton or merino-wool covered, so much the better.
If you perspire during the night, the moisture needs to be evaporated away from the body as quickly and efficiently as possible. One of the most hygroscopic (water-absorbing) fibres is wool. Not only does it help to regulate the temperature around your body but it naturally wicks away the moisture.
Another major factor, and the greatest cause of loss of sleep, is "partner-disturbance". Whilst snuggling up with to your partner may be a great way to keep warm over the winter months, during the summer months the heat from our partner and their tossing and turning will undoubtedly disturb. Our candid advice has always been to "buy the biggest bed that you can afford and fit into your bedroom", to minimise this problem.
Creating a cooler sleeping environment
We’ve said before that keeping electrical items out of the bedroom can improve the quality of your sleep. The same applies during periods of hot weather, although for different reasons. A by-product of any electrical device is heat. (Just touch the side of your monitor now and you’ll see what we mean). While one appliance's output may seem negligible, the cumulative effect of a TV, halogen lights, clocks, laptops and tablets can add to the overall temperature of a room, so do take the time to remove them from the bedroom before you try to sleep.
Keeping the bedroom as dark as possible, even during the day, can help lower the temperature in the bedroom. We may not like the idea of blocking out sunlight from the bedroom, particularly as we see it so rarely in the UK, but by lowering a blind over the open window during sunny periods, any breeze can still enter but sunlight and the heat are kept out. Similarly, if you have multiple lights in the bedroom you should resist using them and opt for just a singular light bulb, thus once again reducing heat within the bedroom. If the temperature rises too high then, in some cases it can actually help to keep windows closed if you have thermally efficient windows, as this can reduce warm air entering the room and lower the temperature inside it.
If you have space and room available, then you can also consider relocating your bedroom and sleeping in a north facing room of your house (if you’re in the Northern hemisphere). This room will naturally receive less direct sunlight during the day so the room will always be cooler than those with a southern aspect.
Choosing the right bed clothes
It is common practice to switch duvets according to the season and to opt for one with a lower tog rating in hot periods. The tog rating is a reflection of the thermal insulation properties of the duvet so the lower the rating the less insulation it provides and the less heat it will retain. However, it is worth emphasising that the optimum material for a duvet is a cotton-covered woollen duvet, for the reasons started above.
Of course, your duvet could even be discarded altogether in hot spells by opting to sleep under just a sheet or lightweight blanket. But if you do choose to sleep under a sheet or blanket, then you should go for one made from a natural material such as cotton, avoiding synthetic man-made materials like polyester.
Consideration should also be given to the pillow as much of the heat that escapes our body leaves through the head. Choosing a cotton-covered woollen pillow that does not retain heat will help to keep you cooler during the night.
By making a few such simple adjustments to your sleeping environment, and choosing a natural-filled mattress like many of the ones we create here at British Beds Worldwide, you can ensure that the next time a heatwave strikes, you'll continue to sleep well. We really do help you sleep better than you've ever slept before, wherever you live and no matter the temperature!