As the UK swelters under an extreme heatwave this week, many individuals may be tempted to keep their electric fans running all night to stay cool while sleeping.
While electric fans are a cost-effective means of cooling down at night, there are several downsides to using them for extended periods.
Downsides of running an electric fan all night
- Allergens and asthma. Electric fans circulate air in the room but also stir up dust mites, spores, pollen, and other allergens. This can lead to excessive sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, itchy throats, and breathing difficulties. Regularly cleaning the fan blades or considering an air-purifying fan can help alleviate allergies.
- Congestion. Prolonged use of electric fans can dry out the air, causing the body to produce more mucus to stay hydrated. This can result in a stuffy nose, sinus headache, and other discomforts. Staying well-hydrated by drinking at least two litres of water daily can help combat this issue.
- Dry eyes and irritation. Dry air from fans can lead to dry eyes and irritation, which can be particularly problematic for contact lens wearers. Consider using a rotating electric heater for better air circulation.
- Muscle pain. Directing cool air from an electric fan onto pre-existing muscle pains can cause muscles to tense and cramp, resulting in more discomfort.
Ways to beat the heat at night
These are the cost-effective tips to create a comfortable sleeping environment without a fan.
Put your pillowcase or hot water bottle in the freezer before your bedtime
If you struggle to cool down at night, fill your hot water bottle with cold water and put it in the freezer an hour before bed. Or, if you don’t own a hot water bottle, put your pillowcase in the freezer for 15 minutes before you hit the hay.
Run your wrists under cold water when you brush your teeth
When you brush your teeth before bed, you should also run your wrists under cold water for a few minutes before bedtime, as this quickly cools your body down.
Keep your bedroom’s blinds and curtains shut all-day
Naturally, the sun tends to be the hottest throughout the day, so a top tip is to keep your blinds and curtains shut throughout the day to prevent the sun from coming in. This should keep your bedroom cooler at night-time when it’s time to fall asleep.
Expose yourself to as much daylight as possible throughout the day
However, while keeping your bedroom away from the light, you should personally try and spend as much time outside throughout the day. This is because light plays the most integral role in regulating your body’s internal clock, as it signals to your brain when to be alert and when to rest. Throughout the day, you should expose yourself to as much light as possible to bring on the feeling of alertness; however, as the day goes on, you should close your curtains to block out the light at night and instead use ambient lamps.
By the time you get to bed, your bedroom should be virtually black, so your brain knows it’s bedtime. If your blind or curtain doesn’t allow this, keep an eye mask near your bed to block the light.
Make sure to drink at least two litres of water throughout the day
Not only does keeping hydrated boost your energy but your metabolism, too. Even mild dehydration can leave you sleepy and tired, negatively disrupting your mood. Finish your last pint, wine or spirit at least three hours before bed. A beer garden after work with friends is a lot of people’s favourite summer evening pastime, but if you want to sleep well too, stop drinking alcohol at least three hours before you intend to sleep.
Alcohol has sedative properties, so you might think it’ll help you get to sleep, but the quality of your sleep will be much lower, causing you to feel groggy in the morning.
Alcohol prevents you from entering your sleep cycle’s REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage
This is where deep, restorative sleep happens and often where we dream. Without this essential sleep stage, our bodies can’t properly rest and recuperate, so you’ll still feel tired in the morning. If you wish to partake in a tipple in the summer evenings, switch to a soft drink three hours before bedtime.
Switch your duvet cover to a lighter-coloured one
You should switch your duvet cover to know that it is not only lighter in colour but also in a lighter material to regulate your body temperature if you sweat at night. It’s important to choose this type of bedding during spring and summer as night sweats can disturb your sleep and significantly impact your mood.
Also, remember to wash your bedding once a week in spring and summer to remove any build-up of bacteria if you are prone to sweating
Move your bed to this secret spot, encouraging the highest quality sleep
If you’re struggling to sleep, you should also consider moving your bed to the best position for sleep, as this can improve your sleep quality beyond the heatwave.
Placing your bed against the longest wall allows you to fall asleep faster as when it’s alternatively placed near a door or window, you can be kept away from sounds and shadows, which are likely to happen during the hotter periods of the year as people make the most of the weather.