We’re not often ones to complain about the heat – the warmer the better, and we’re happy to handle the humidity (to a degree) if it means more sunshine. But, the one downside of a hot summer day is a hot summer night when you’re trying to fall asleep. The tossing and turning is endless, and you can never figure out if it’s actually cooler with the covers off… or on… or maybe half off, or is it half on?
When you finally do fall asleep, the next thing you know you’re awake again and sweating from head to toe – and that’s when you know the prospect of a good night’s sleep has gone out the window. But it’s more than the obvious discomfort that makes sleeping in the heat tough; your body temperature needs to decrease in order to fall asleep. Decreasing body temperatures act as a signal for the onset of sleep – and they are also believed to help you sleep better through the night. That’s why we’re bringing you our top 4 steps for sleeping in the heat this summer. Plus, we’ve got a few tips for how you can help your newborn with sleep as well!
Top tips for sleeping in the heat
1. Aim lower on your thermostat. The best ambient temperature for getting a good night’s sleep is generally lower than people expect it to be. We can bet that your thermostat is set for around 20˚ C (or 68˚F), however, the ideal temperature is between 16-18˚C (or 61-64˚F). I know, it sounds chilly, but remember your body temperature decreases to help you fall and stay asleep – and lower room temps can help that. Of course, everyone is different so feel free to play around with this until you find the best temperature balance for your body. Don’t have air con, or want to keep your electricity bills down? Here are three solutions you can use to help keep it cool:
– Keep your room as dark as possible during the day – this goes for natural sunlight and electric lighting
– Turn on your AC just long enough to cool things down, then leave a dehumidifier running to reduce that ‘sticky’ heat sensation.
– Place a bucket of ice water in front of a fan – if you use one. It’s not an alternative to AC, but it will add a bit of chill to the air that your fan blows around.
Tip for baby: your newborn actually needs slightly warmer temperatures than you do – aim for 19-21˚C (66-70˚F).
2. Drink water! Your body cannot regulate it’s temperature efficiently if it is not hydrated – so this may be adding to difficulty falling asleep in hotter temps. As always, aim to drink 64oz (at least!) of water every day – that’s 8 glasses of water. Try to finish your last glass about 30 minutes before bedtime so you can avoid waking up for a trip to the loo. Otherwise, keep a glass of cool water beside your bed to make sure you can stay hydrated through the night.
Tip for baby: the same goes for baby when it comes to being hydrated! However your baby’s hydration comes in the form of breastmilk or formula, of course. Keep evening feedings frequent so that s/he has a full belly when you put him or her down for the night. It should mean less wake-ups for the both of you!
3. Take a warm shower. A shower (that’s on the cooler side of warm) right before bed can help naturally prep you for sleep! While it won’t be as relaxing as a hot shower, it also won’t be as invigorating as a cold shower – so you’ll get that nice sweet spot of relaxation and cooling relief. Then, when you get out of the shower, your body won’t be too hot and your surroundings will feel colder without actually being colder – encouraging your body temperature to lower, and bringing on a night of restful sleep. If you don’t feel like going for a full shower – use a cold wet wash cloth to cool your major pulse points; focus on your neck, wrists, hands, back of your knees, and feet!
Tip for baby: soothing relaxation will help your baby fall asleep as well! If you’re practiced in newborn massage, it’s great to spend 10 minutes giving your little one a gentle massage before bed to help encourage sleep.
4. Have a downloading session. If you’ve done everything to beat the heat and you’re still lying awake on a summer night, it may be your wandering thoughts that are to blame. When you finally get in bed for the night, after a busy day filled with stimulation, your mind finally has a chance to mull over everything that happened – the good, the bad, the stressful – and this can keep you awake. Place a journal next to your bed and before you get too cosy, write down everything that happened in the day and anything that’s still on your mind. This is what we call a ‘downloading session’ and it allows your brain to actively process the day’s events, so that when you are ready to close your eyes, there will be fewer distracting thoughts to keep you awake.
Tip for baby: if you’re stressed when you get into bed, it makes it harder for you to fall asleep – and the same goes for baby! If you seem stressed or agitated when you put baby to bed, s/he might pick up on it and start to feel agitated as well. Focus on slowing your breathing and using soothing tones while you put baby to bed to create an air of calm and relaxation to help the both of you get ready for bed.
The summer months can make it hard to fall asleep, and it can be tempting to turn to external methods to help you fall asleep. Of course some medications can be dangerous for both you and baby, but you may not know that some herbal remedies pose potential dangers as well. Things like Valerian and Ginseng are herbal remedies often touted as useful sleep aids, however there is very little research on the safety of using these while pregnant. It’s important to take caution with any solutions that don’t show proven, safe benefits – especially in pregnancy but if breastfeeding. Make sure to talk to your doctor first before using any type of sleep aid – artificial or herbal. The one herbal sleep aid that’s been shown to be both effective and safe is lavender – and we recommend using this essential oil in a diffuser placed next to your bed to help create a soothing, sleep-inducing scent to help carry you off to sleep.