Slept well? We neither. The heat of the day has turned our room into a sauna, and finding a little cool is a challenge. A Danish study published in May demonstrated the impact of heat on sleep quality: nighttime temperatures of 30 degrees reduce sleep time by fourteen minutes per night.
Dr. Katerina Espa Cervena, co-director of the Cenas sleep medicine center in Geneva, points out that in normal times, the body naturally lowers its temperature. This physiological process is correlated with drowsiness and leads us to sleep. However, in hot weather “the body cannot effectively reduce the temperature, because it has to fight the outside heat. This makes falling asleep more complicated, and light and fragmented sleep”. Consequences: insomnia, fatigue, drowsiness or loss of concentration. But the heat wave also increases the risk of developing sleep disorders in the long term. Sleep difficulties can also accentuate the problems and pains of people affected by chronic diseases.
Also read: Heat stroke in Switzerland: what you need to know, in five points
So if, like most Swiss people, you don’t have an air conditioner, here are the sleep medicine specialist’s tips for sleeping peacefully this summer:
- Take care of the preparation of the room during the day, close the blinds, ventilate early in the morning and late in the evening. “The ideal conditions for sleeping well are a room between 18 and 20 degrees.”
- Take a lukewarm shower before sleeping. Do not dry yourself completely, and go to bed a little damp. The evaporation of water from the body will give a feeling of freshness. Be careful not to take an icy shower, because the body will increase its temperature to fight the cold. So it’s counterproductive.
- Wear very light cotton, and do not use the duvet.
- Put an atomizer in the fridge and spray his sheets and his body with it.
- Place an ice cold bottle in front of the fan.
- Go to bed a little later than usual to accentuate natural fatigue, and let the outside temperature drop.
But beware, the sleep doctor also insists on the bad habits to eliminatefor example:
- Avoid any physical activity in the evening, as it increases body temperature.
- Do not consume heavy meals before sleeping, otherwise digestion will work the metabolism and “warm up the machine”.
- Avoid alcohol, as it disrupts sleep. “Certainly, it can have a first sedative effect, but when alcohol breaks down in the body, it creates secondary molecules, which have an awakening effect.”
- Avoid all arousal, whether emotional or cognitive. Do not make too much intellectual effort before bedtime.
- Avoid all stimulants in the evening, such as coffee, black tea, Redbull, Coke and exposure to screens.
Small habits to adopt to survive the current heat waves and anticipate future ones, which are likely to multiply with global warming.