One of the biggest struggles during a hot summer is getting to sleep at night. The lack of sleep makes us more irritated, less concentrated and affects our health on many levels.
Instead of focusing only on our bedtime routine and ways to keep our cool before going to bed, it is better to shift our overall behavior during the warmest period of the year.
In Italy we used to get into a summer routine that allowed us to keep our cool during the summer months, i.e. from end of April to October (in the Northern hemisphere) in the most natural way, i.e. without using airco. Here are my 14 tips that will help you keep cool this summer:
1) Slow down
This is the first thing to do: when it is hot, you slow down your pace. Not only the pace of your walk. Get in slow(er) motion mode and consider this when planning appointments and meetings. By keeping your cool you will feel cooler too.
2) Wear the right clothes
I always recommend to do like locals if you are on holidays: look how locals dress. Wearing long-flowing, loose-fitting clothes will keep you cooler than shorts and sleeveless dresses or shirts. Choose the right fabric: linnen, madras, hopsack etc are summer favourites. They keep part of the fabric away from the skin and allow air channels to open right up. Use undershirts. The Italian children’s song Metti la canottiera teaches children to keep their undershirts on. If it gets damp it will cool you down when the breeze hits.
If you wear a hat, use one that allows some air circulation, like a straw hat.
If you need to wear a blazer, choose an unlined one, as those with silk, satin or polyester lining don’t breathe very well…
3) Avoid the hottest hours
If you can, avoid being out in the sun between 11:00 and 17:00ish, when the temperatures are at a peak. If ou can’t avoid it, try to stay in the shade as much as you can.
4) Start cooling down your place in the (early) morning
Get up very early, before sunrise, and open all the windows to cool down your house. Close them all before the sun hits the windows and close the curtains and blinds – and keep them closed during the day in order to keep the cool.
5) Prepare hot food and drinks in the early morning
The kitchen being the hottest room in the house, try to prepare meals when it’s cool. If you want to drink a warm tea during the day, prepare the water and keep it in a thermos. You can warm up your meals in short time once you have them precooked. – We used to prepare pastasalades, ricesalades etc. and eat lots of fruit and vegetables that contain much water to keep our body hydrated.
6) Eat the right food
Choosing the right food and drinks will help your body keep cool and healthy during the summer. Fruit and vegetables, yoghurt, potato or pasta salad, herbs (watercress, mint, basilicum etc.) for your mineral intake, onions (the red ones), bananas, melons (preferably watermelons but the others also contain a high percentage of water).
7) Drink a lot and not too cold
Drinking very cold drinks won’t help you cool down. You may want to prefer warmer drinks for your thermoregulation. Luke warm drinks might not be so appealing but are better than ice-cold ones. Increase your water intake during hot days.
8) Early and light dinner
Having dinner 3 hours before bedtime will help your body prepare for sleep. Opt for light food, not too much proteins or carbohydrates as this will make it more difficult for your .
9) Switch off electronic devices
At least in the bedroom and where you try to keep cool, you want to keep electrical devices switched off as they all emit heat. Don’t forget to switch off the sockets too, and the lights, of course…
10) Rinse your forearms and legs with water
Many people put on wet socks, damp T-Shirts and cold packs on their head to keep cool: be careful that it is not too cold as you can get a summer cold which is surely not what you want. A wet flannel on your forehead and rinsing your forearmy and legs with water during the day and before bedtime (let airdry!) will help you cool down.
11) Get used to the sweat
We notice that it’s too warm when we start sweating. If you are used to not sweat much regularly, you will feel uncomfortable. Fact is, that sweating is the most effective and natural way for our bodies to lose heat. When the sweat on the skin surface evaporates, our skin cools down and the blood that flows close to the surface of the skin gets cooled in the process and helps reduce the core temperature. Be aware that an adult can lose up to half or one litre of sweat every day, and in hot environments it can increase considerably. This is why it is essential to keep the body hydrated during hot weather. – If you feel light headed or very tired, it might be that you need to drink more!
And if you feel uncomfortable about sweating more, try to apply some mint, eucalyptus or other cooling fragrances to feel “cooler”.
12) Cool bedding
Some like to put their bedding in the freezer (you put it in a plastic bag first!) for a few minutes, or at least the pillowcase or pijamas. We only used very thin cotton sheets in the summer.
13) Cooling oils and colors
Use cooling oils like peppermint, eucalyptus or spearmint oil on your wrists and feet to cool down.
If you have the famous “heat headache” or wake up in the night, rub a few diluted drops of the oil on your forehead and back of your head.
These oils have the ability to trick receptors in the brain into thinking that the body is cooler than it really is, especially the part that is in contact with the oil. I would only use essential oils and in diluted form.
Also, surrounding yourself with cooling colors might help you feel less warm…
14) Let the cool in
To cool down the temperature in your bedroom during the night, put a wet flannel on the open window. You can do this before going to bed or during the night: it is a natural air-cooler.
If you live in an area with a bit of wind, you can also build one of these coolers made of plastic bottles. It will help get the temperature down a few degrees, which can make quite a difference – don’t expect it to cool your room down like an airco though.
If you want to keep your cool when it’s hot, I recommend you to do all the things I mentioned above and get into the low-pace–warm-weather-mode.
– What are your tips to stay cool when it is hot?