The Handbook
The Handbook

We’re a nation obsessed with sleep. We have apps on our phones that track it, we read about it to try and get to sleep and we spend a Super King-sized £100 billion on it every year in hope of getting more.

Sleep is without a doubt big business and if you’re part of the 22% of Brits who have trouble drifting off every night, you won’t be looking forward to this week’s heatwave that’s set to see temperatures sore to 34 degrees.

To help you get more shut eye we’ve laid out some surprisingly low-tech tips and tricks to ensure you’re not counting sheep this week, from how to prepare for  sleep to how to make your bed a chilled out haven in hot weather.

Plus, one of the UK’s leading sleep experts, James Wilson aka The Sleep Geek, has offered his sound advice to aid you into a dreamy slumber.  

Put your sheets in the freezer

Bear with us on this one. It might sound mad, but we learnt this trick off a Aussie who couldn’t sleep during one of Sydney’s crazy heatwaves.

Pop your top sheet or under-sheet into a plastic bag and put it in the freezer before bedtime. Just before bed, put the icy sheet on and you should drift off into a cool slumber before your bedding returns to the room’s temperature.

Steep your feet in cold water before you get into bed

“Have a bath or shower in the hour before bed, or a great tip is fill a hot water bottle with lukewarm water and place your bare feet on it, says Jason, “This will raise your temperature slightly and then it will drop, helping your body prepare for sleep.”

Alternatively, get a tea towel, soak it in icy water and drape it over your feet (outside of the covers) to keep you cool while you fall asleep.

Get out your hot water bottle

Go old school and dig out your hot water bottle, but fill it up with water and ice instead – if the neck it too thin to get ice cubes in, fill up a jug of water and ice and keep it in the fridge for a bit before you use the water to fill the bottle before bed.

Take off its protective woolly cover and snuggle into a lovely chilled bed.

Use the cold side of the pillow

The old faithful turning the pillow over trick is a favourite during the summer months. Make it easier by choosing a silk pillow which will naturally stay cooler – it’s also gentler on your hair and skin, or opt for a new age cold pillow that will keep your head sleepy and cool all night. There’s a multitude of new technologies on the market, from Simba’s Hybrid Pillow that uses special fibres and breathable fabrics to keep you cool, to Kally’s Cooling Pillow that’s filled with a cooling foam core and high quality Hollowfibre.

Then there’s the award-winning Premium CoolGel™ Bed Pillow by Supportiback, which comes with one side that’s soft and snug, and the other with heat-dissipating gel to keep you cool all night. Genius.

Take a cool shower

An oldie but a goldie: take a cool shower before bed to bring our temperature down before slipping between the sheets. Going to bed with your hair a little wet will also help to keep your temperature down.

Drink lots of water throughout the day

Staying hydrated is a given during a heatwave but make sure you keep it up as it can also affect your sleep. Go to bed dehydrated and you can guarantee you’ll be counting sheep. It’s best to avoid caffeinated and sugary drinks too, as well as chocolate.

Don’t exercise before bed

Keeping your temperature down before bedtime is key to a good night’s sleep so make sure you get that run or HIIT session in in the morning if you can.

Stick to strict bedtimes

Try to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern during the heatwave as much as possible. This includes napping. The hot weather and time in the sun will naturally make you feel sleepy but try to avoid that 3pm nap if you can so that you’re suitable tired come bedtime.

Invest in cotton PJs

Even if you’re attached to that old band T-shirt, charity run top or ex’s tee you love wearing to bed, now’s the time to upgrade. Posh jammies feel like a proper indulgence, but they are so worth it come the warmer months.

Choose 100% organic cotton or breathable linen for the most comfortable night’s sleep. We love brands such as Desmond & Dempsey, Piglet in Bed, Sleeper and Asceno – all so good you can wear them in the day with jeans or denim shorts – and always size up for ultimate ventilation.

On the high street, H&M, John Lewis and Zara Home do some great affordable options.

Keep a water spray on your bedside table

Keep a water spray next to your bed for midnight cool downs and spray it on your face, neck and wrists whenever it gets too hot. Better still, buy a cooling mist spray – the aerosol can will keep the liquid stay even cooler and the fine mist is seriously satisfying when the heat gets too much.

We love Caudalie’s iconic Grape Water mist for a shot of skincare ingredients too.

Get a decent fan

Finding a fan that does the job and doesn’t have a grating hum is hard.

Dyson’s Tower Cooling Fans are expensive, but they work, are as quiet as a mouse and don’t look offensive in even the most styled of bedrooms. They use Air Multiplier technology to create a powerful stream of uninterrupted airflow and feature streamlined air channels that reduce the noise caused by turbulence. Plus, you can leave them on for nine hours straight with no need to worry and set them to turn off after a selected amount of time.

For a more affordable option, Zaahn’s Ultra Chill Deluxe Evaporative Cooler comes in around £35 and cools, dehumidifies, cleanses the air and has an aroma diffuser, mood light and reading light built in for ultimate bedtime chills.

If you’re after an all-rounder that’s going to help bedtimes and overheated WFH situations, the Bionaire Black Tower Fan oscillates to evenly give you and your partner a blast of cool air and the stream is pretty powerful. It is noisier than the likes of the Dyson, but not awful and a steal at under £50.

Top tip: don’t wait. Buy your fan now before it gets too hot and everyone jumps on the bandwagon. You’ll be left with either high-end, expensive options or substandard fans being flogged on eBay for £100 a pop

Avoid hot food and drinks

Give up your curry night during the heatwave and swap any evening hot drinks for chilled ones instead. Spicy foods and hot drinks are likely to raise your temperature when you want to keep it down as much as possible.

Invest in the right bedding

Look for thin, natural and preferably organic fabrics such as cotton or linen. As for a duvet, you may as well forget about it, especially if you sleep next to someone else, but Simba do some great Hybrid options for cool and warm weather if you prefer something heavier.

Secret Linen Store, John Lewis, Cox and Cox and Piglet in Bed are all great options with high-quality products for a range of budgets. Failing that, the one leg out of the covers trick works wonders.

Be sure to wind down

Whether there’s a heatwave happening or we’re in the depth of winter, feeling relaxed before trying to sleep is key to your eight hours. Try to ditch your phone or tablet use two hours before bed and the TV at least an hour before bed. Instead, listen to a podcast, audio book or read. Meditation and taking CBD oil might also help a busy mind to wind down pre-bedtime.

“I find the biggest issue many of us run into in the hot weather is our mindset, explains James, “We convince ourselves that it is just too hot and that we won’t sleep tonight. This then leads onto how awful it will be tomorrow if we don’t sleep tonight and before you know it, you have caused your heart rate to rise and you have talked yourself into sleeping poorly.

“My advice is not to worry too much about it. We live in the UK, at some point the weather will break and it will cool down again. Until then just try and get the best sleep you can.”

Keep your bedroom as cool as possible

Usually opening the curtains or blinds and letting sunlight into your room is essential for reducing harmful bacteria that can grow in the house, improve circulation and help to keep your mood boosted. But if you’re really worried about a sun-drenched room getting too hot throughout the day, keep the curtains drawn and the blinds down to stop it heating up before bedtime.

James suggests, “opening the windows on either side of the house to get a nice airflow throughout and when direct sunlight is in a room, ensure the blinds or curtains are closed.”

For more information on James Wilson aka The Sleep Geek please visit thesleepgeek.co.uk

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