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10 tips for sleeping better this summer

BC Hydro spokesperson, Dave, snugly tucked into his bed.
Discomfort sleeping in the heat of summer can be countered with a variety of strategies, including what and when you eat and drink before bed.

Air conditioning isn't the only answer to comfort

Everything from what and when you eat, to the temperature of your bedsheets, to your pyjamas can affect how well you sleep when temperatures spike in the summer months.

Yes, it's possible to get a good night's sleep without air conditioning. Run a central air conditioner overnight for a month and it may cost you more than $100, and even an efficient ENERGY STAR® rated room air conditioner will cost you more than $10 over a month when used eight hours per day.

As anyone with a south-facing window could tell you, sleeping in the summer months can be an exercise of frustration more than relaxation. Although more British Columbians than ever are opting for air conditioning, the fact remains that many of us are tossing and turning all night when the days get longer and warmer.

Here are 10 tips you can try for a better summer sleep.

1. Stay hydrated up to one or two hours before bedtime

Drinking plenty of water during the day can help your body better regulate your temperature at night. But try not to drink in the last couple hours before bed, or you may wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. If it's really hot and you're still thirsty, try sucking on an ice cube or two before bed.

2. Avoid alcohol, especially close to bedtime

Alcohol dehydrates the body and can set you up for discomfort overnight, when your body is already working to regulate its temperature in the heat.

3. Eat lighter, and don't eat late

Try to make your last meal of the day lighter than usual, and avoid sugar, carb-heavy foods, saturated fats and foods heavy with fibre.

4. Exercise early, and keep a sleep schedule

Regular exercise can help you sleep more soundly, and in summer, it's safest to do it in the cooler morning hours. Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule to ensure your body’s ready for sleep.

5. Count on cotton

When it comes to bedsheets opt for 100% cotton, bamboo, or specially-designed cooling sheets that wick moisture and keep you feeling cool.

6. Try a late shower, but make it barely warm, not hot

A hot shower will leave you overheated, while a cold shower will make you alert when you need to relax. A tepid shower will cool you down a little while also delivering the relaxation you need to sleep well.

7. Find a cooler place to sleep, closer to the ground

If you have a basement or lower floor to your home, they tend to be coooler. You may want to relocate for a night or two when things get really warm, particularly if there's a guest bedroom or comfy sofa bed on offer.

8. Strategize to keep your bedroom cooler

In the morning, as soon as the outside air is warmer outside than in, close your bedroom window and all the windows of your home. Use window coverings to block the sun. Once the outside air cools in the evening, open windows again to create air flow.

9. Give your sheets the deep freeze

Who hasn't flipped over their pillow in the middle of the night to rest their head on the "cool" side?

While a cold facecloth or a hot water bottle filled and chilled in the freezer makes for a nice companion in bed, there's a way to go all out in the search for cool. You'll need a freezer big enough to accommodate your sheets. Unmake your bed, put your sheets and pillowcases in a large plastic bag and pop them in the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes before bedtime.

10. Pitch a tent in the backyard or on a patio

If you have kids, they'll love it. During an extreme heat wave, the best place to sleep might be outdoors, and you'll still be near all modern conveniences including a flush toilet.