Q: It is so hot out that I am having trouble sleeping at night. How can I stay cool?
A: We have already had our first heat wave of the summer and chances are it will not be the last. It can be helpful to prepare throughout the day to maintain cool in your home to help you sleep better at night.
In the morning when it is the coolest temperature, you can open the windows and let the cooler air in. Once the day starts to heat up, close the blinds to keep the cooler air inside. Use fans to circulate the air. If it is warm inside your home or you do not have air conditioning, then be sure to spend some of your day in a cooler location. Consider walking in a mal, sitting inside a cool coffee shop or library, or using one of the cooling centers that are available on hot days. You can find a cooling center near you by visiting https://www.vcemergency.com/ for Ventura County or in Los Angeles County visiting https://ready.lacounty.gov/heat/
If you do need to spend time outdoors for exercise or work, then be sure to do this early in the day or late in the evenings when the temperatures are milder. After exerting yourself, drink plenty of cold fluids to stay hydrated and avoid caffeine and hot drinks.
Finding an evening routine to help you sleep better in the warm weather is important. Take a cool shower right before getting into bed. This will lower your body temperature. Wear loose fitting, cotton clothing. Consider changing your bedding to a more breathable fabric. Natural fibers, including lightweight cotton and bamboo,
are better for warm nights. There are also bedding options made of high-tech wicking fabrics that are more breathable.
Use a cold wet washcloth on your forehead or neck if you are still warm when you get into bed. One tip is to wet a washcloth and keep in the freezer in a plastic bag. Then at night when you take it out it will defrost while you use it and keep you cool.
Avoid alcohol at night as that can warm your internal temperature. Remember that heat rises, so if your bedroom is on the top floor consider sleeping downstairs.
Your internal body temperature is what matters the most to allow your normal circadian rhythms to modulate your sleep. Do not worry about what the weather temperature reads, as long as you can find ways to lower your internal temperature by using the tips listed here. Our own worry can be the cause of poor sleep if we do not manage it.
Calming bedtimes routines are especially important to quiet your mind and allow yourself to relax. You may be able to distract yourself from the heat and give your body time to rest. Keep your lighting dim as you prepare for bed and turn off all electronics at least an hour prior to bedtime.
Consider playing relaxing music or listening to a guided meditation to focus your mind on something other the heat. Good sleep hygiene can go a long way in setting your night up for a successful rest.
Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at email@example.com