Everyone looks forward to the summer: the gorgeous weather, the light evenings, the endless barbecues, the beach trips and the swimming pools. However, when it’s time to go to sleep, that’s when the struggles begin. Hot, stuffy rooms and sweaty, sticky bedsheets make bedtime awful, and don’t produce an environment that makes sleep come easily. Children tend to suffer the worst with this, and it’s vital to keep them cool so they can get the sleep they desperately need. From the obvious tricks like air conditioning and fans, to freezing your sheets and using hot water bottles, you’ll find plenty of tried and tested tricks below – and don’t forget to comment with any methods you have that help.
- Invest in air conditioning
If you’ve been planning to get air conditioning for some time, now’s definitely the right moment. While it’s initially quite a large investment to pay out, it’s worth it for when the nights get hot and sticky, and you’re struggling to get to sleep. Find a unit that suits your home: some people like the soft hum of air con, but others prefer to have one that works in silence.
- Use a fan
If you can’t stretch to air conditioning, or you just don’t want it, then using a fan is just as good. From small fans suited to a bedside table, to those large enough to cool a room down on their own, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Plus, because they’re often cheap to buy, you can invest in a couple. Ceiling fans are a good idea if you want a powerful fan that won’t take up space on your floor. If you buy a few fans and place them around the room, you’ll be able to create cross-breezes, cooling you down even more. Another option is to point fans at open windows, pushing the hot air back out.
- Try the bottle of ice trick
While fans are great during hot weather, they don’t actually cool the air down. They simply push it around, meaning that you could just be pushing hot air around your room, rather than cooling it down. If you’ve got little ones who are really struggling with the heat, try freezing a few bottles of water and then place them in front of the fan (or taping them on using industrial strength duct tape). This means that your fans will be blowing out icy cool air into the room, helping to cool you down considerably.
- Stay busy during the day
While it’s easy to get slow and lethargic when it’s hot, it’s vital that you still get your children out and about during the day. Kids who are left to laze around all day won’t be feeling tired by the time they go to bed. Plus, if you can start with a small amount of time playing in the heat, and then build it up, you’ll be able to get them acclimatized to the hot weather better. Just remember to follow all the normal sun protection procedures: wearing sun block; always having a hat that covers the back of the neck; sunglasses; staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, and drinking lots.
- No screens before bed
This counts for helping you get to sleep in any kind of weather, but limiting your screen usage is vital if you want a good night’s sleep. The glare from a screen mirrors the sun, so your brain doesn’t switch off. Try to put down anything with ‘blue glare’ at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Or, if your device has it, enable ‘sleep mode’. This changes the light from blue to yellow, and helps the brain better prepare for sleep.
- Take cool showers
If you and your children aren’t happy in the heat, try to have a cool shower or bath before bed. The cold water will bring your body temperature down, and will also wash off any sweat, grime and pollen you’ve collected throughout the day. Feeling fresh and cool will help you drop off to sleep quicker, as you won’t be getting into bed hot. While you don’t want to freeze in the shower, feeling a bit shivery when you go to sleep will help you drop off quicker.
- Stay hydrated
One of the best ways to stay cool is by drinking lots of water. You should be aiming to drink the recommended daily amount – at least. However, this amount usually goes up in hot weather, especially if you’re active during the day. You should also make sure your child has access to cold water throughout the night – using a lidded cup is a good idea if you’re worried about any spillages.
- Use the right bedding
Most people have a winter and summer duvet, but if you don’t already practice this, it’s worth starting now. A summer duvet is considerably lighter than a thick winter one, and it means you won’t get as hot underneath it. You could also look at only using a light sheet to sleep under, taking away the weight of a quilt. If your children are dreading going to bed in the summer, you could let them get fun, new bedding, to bring the novelty back: VisionBedding.com has some brilliant sets to browse through, making bedtime a fun experience for the children (especially when it’s hot and light outside). You should only ever buy cotton sheets for summer use: it’s much cooler, and you won’t get as sweaty underneath it.
- Put your sheets in the fridge or freezer
This might sound a bit daft, but putting your children’s sheets – or at least their pillow cases – in the fridge or freezer will cool them down instantly. You only need to do this for about ten minutes before they go to bed, so it’s ideal for adding to the bedtime routine: while the kids get into their pajamas, their sheets can cool down and be ready for when they get in. Make sure the shelf you’re putting them on is clean, and wrap them in a plastic bag, so they don’t pick up any smells or leftover food.
- Pick heat-friendly pajamas
Depending on what your child is comfortable in, you might just want to put them in a diaper and nothing else for when they sleep. However, if they love their pajamas, then stick to loose cotton tops – retailers like Gap, do adorable, comfy sets for kids (and for adults too!). Wearing a top is sometimes said to be better, as it will wick away any sweat that occurs during the night. However, this is very much down to personal preference: you know what you find comfiest to wear in bed.
- Know how to cool down quickly
If you or your children have gotten off to sleep quickly, but then wake up when it’s hot and stuffy, you need to know how to cool down quickly. Taking a shower in the middle of the night is ok if it’s just you at home, but you don’t want to wake the entire household up. So, to cool down quickly, hold wrists or feet under cold running water. These points will let you cool down your blood, meaning your body temperature will decrease. You could also try popping a cold, damp flannel or towel on your child’s head, but only for short periods at a time.
- Set up camp at home
If you’re all really struggling with the heat, then it might be time to think outside the box. If you’ve got a safe back garden, in the school holidays you could camp in your yard, with nothing but an open tent or mosquito net around you. It’s great fun for the kids, and after a night in the wild, they’ll be more than happy to jump into bed the next day! If you’ve got the space inside, you could try stringing up hammocks or cot beds. These are often cooler, as you don’t have the bulk of a mattress beneath you.
- Keep the curtains drawn all day
One of the easiest ways to keep a room cool and ready for sleep is to keep the sun out of it. Invest in some good black-out blinds and keep the curtains closed all day, so the sun doesn’t have chance to warm your house at all.
- Use a hot water bottle
Now, this might sound counterproductive, but there’s a way you can use your hot water bottle all year round. Simply fill it with water – and pop it in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, you’ll have an ice-cold bottle to hang onto in bed, or to use to cool down your sheets before you get in. Just remember to put a fabric cover over it, so you don’t get uncomfortably close to the ice.
- Put damp sheets on
This is a great way to get some sleep on hot nights. Known as the “Egyptian method”, you either put a towel or sheet onto a short cycle in your washing machine or chuck it in the bath or shower. Wring it out so it’s damp, and then use it as a blanket. Just make sure you’ve got a dry towel or sheet underneath you, to protect your mattress.