Tips to beat the heat this summer, from sleep to exercise
A temperature health alert has been issued as temperatures in parts of England are set to reach 30C over the weekend, hotter than Ibiza and Madrid.
The UK’s Health Security Agency said the alert, which is in effect from Friday 9 June to Monday 12 June, means we are likely to see “the first sustained period of hot weather of the year so far”.
Last year, the UK faced a summer heatwave and the highest ever temperature levels were recorded across the country. Social media has been filled with those struggling with the sun, captions for cooling tips and tricks, and concerns about how to prevent overheating.
Despite the usual British complaints about rain, many of us are often unprepared for temperatures to really rise. However, with a few small adjustments, you can really feel confident facing the heat this summer.
The best tips for sleeping in the heat
There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep when it’s hot. Tossing and turning in the sweaty sheets and being unable to feel the cold can mean you may find yourself dreading summer nights.
But your life doesn’t have to change just because the temperature has changed. If you want to continue getting the quality sleep you deserve, these tips are for you. Even small changes like unplugging your electronic devices before bed and keeping the curtains closed during the day can reduce the temperature in your room.
1. Take a bottle of cold water. Freeze a water bottle and wrap it in a cloth or shirt. Just like a hot water bottle in the winter, this will help regulate your temperature and will cool your body down.
2. Sleep naked or wear cotton pajamas. Cotton pajamas will absorb sweat which will help cool you down faster.
3. Run your wrists under cold water. This will cool your blood as it passes this pulse point.
4. Drink hot milk drinks before bed. They regulate our body temperature and can cool us down. It also contains tryptophan, which helps produce melatonin.
5. Change your sleeping position. Sleeping on your side means more of your surface area is exposed to any cooling air, says Goldster NLP practitioner Anna Campkin.
Certain foods can help you stay calm
Drinking isn’t the only way to stay hydrated this summer. In fact, there are a range of foods you can eat that will increase your water intake. Some ingredients can have cooling effects that help you deal with the heat, while others can dry you out.
These tips, provided by nutritionist Claudia Le Feuvre, will help you understand which foods to focus on to stay cool and which foods to avoid.
1. Eat hydrating foods. Some foods can also contribute to overall water consumption such as watermelon, cucumber, celery, strawberries, oranges, peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, and leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach because they have a high water content.
2. Choose snacks. Heavy, high-calorie meals can make you feel lethargic. Le Feuvre suggests vibrant salads with vegetables, lean proteins like chicken or fish, and healthy fats like avocado or nuts. Le Feuvre also recommends chilled soups such as gazpacho or cucumber soup.
3. Use cold spices in your cooking, such as mint, coriander, fennel, and cardamom. These improve flavor, aid digestion, and have natural cooling properties that can help regulate your temperature.
4. Be sure to replace electrolytes. Sweating can deplete essential electrolytes in the body, but you can replenish them by eating foods rich in potassium, magnesium and sodium. Foods like bananas, avocados, coconut water, leafy greens, and natural sea salt are all great sources, Le Feuvre says.
5. Reduce processed foods and sugary drinks such as soft drinks, sweetened fruit juices, and excessive caffeine. These can dehydrate your body and lead to energy crashes.
How to exercise safely in the sun
When the sun is out, exercise can become a source of stress. You don’t want to overheat, but you also don’t want your workouts to stop completely. Fortunately, there are ways you can continue your routine and get your heart rate up despite the high temperature.
1. Plan your workouts. If you train outside, try to do your workout early in the morning before the sun gets too high. The daytime temperature reaches its peak between 1pm and 3pm, so it is best to avoid exercising outside during this time.
2. Stay hydrated. According to personal trainer Tim Harris, it takes up to two hours for the liquid you drink to reach proper hydration levels in the body. Make sure you drink well before exercise and continue to hydrate afterward. However, try not to drink water during exercise.
3. Wear light colored clothes. Make sure to wear exercise equipment that is not too heavy or too tight. Also choose lighting colors such as white, light green, yellow and blue, as black may attract more heat to your body.
4. Make sure to take breaks. Be aware that when training in hot weather, you may need longer to recover and look for a cooler area to recover. Find a shaded area to catch your breath.
5. Adjust your workouts. You may want to time your workouts or weight exercises in the summer heat, and it’s always better to back off your workouts a bit than to go all out and hurt yourself or get burned out.