sleep during a heatwave dos and donts - esrs sleep science friday

How to Sleep During a Heatwave – Do’s and Don’ts

Dr. Ellemarije Altena

Dr. Ellemarije Altena

Associate Professor at INCIA, Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France.

Climate has changed more drastically in the last decades and continues to change – this is a fact. Global temperatures are rising at an alarming rate, and in the last years, on average, we have seen an increase in heatwaves frequency, along with other extreme events. A trend that it seems to be here to stay, with climate change being the “one” to blame, according to the majority of the scientific community. In particular, night-time temperatures are rising faster than daytime temperatures.

The first official day of summer was only two days ago (at the date of this publication) – the 21st of June marks the summer solstice, the longest day and shortest night of the year in the northern hemisphere – but in 2023, many countries already experienced usual summer temperatures way before the 21 June, with one or more heatwaves events.

How to Deal with Sleep Problems During Heatwaves

In this Sleep Science Friday, we want to alert people, governments, and policymakers, to the importance of being better prepared to deal with the more often heatwave events. It is vital to educate people and to set the necessary policies, infrastructures, and human resources to support not only the population in need, but also agroecosystems and natural ecosystems to prevent repeating past human and environmental disasters.

For this purpose, ESRS invited Dr. Ellemarije Altena, an expert in the field, who has published in the Journal of Sleep Research, the paper entitled “How to deal with sleep problems during heatwaves: practical recommendations from the European Insomnia Network” (vide Altena et al., 2023), to educate us on how to better sleep during heatwaves. You can hear and read below the important message that she has to share with us. Also, based on Ellemarije’s paper and her collaboration, we compile the most important Do’s and Don’ts with an educative infographic that you can see, download, and share from this publication.

"Have you ever felt you were sleeping much worse during a heatwave? When exceptionally warm temperatures last more than 3 days?
Those periods have become much more frequent particularly in northern Europe, with especially nighttime temperatures rising.
Our body temperature cycles can then be disrupted, affecting the quality and quantity of our sleep. As an initiative of the European Insomnia Network, in this paper we summarize sleep tips during heatwaves.
A lukewarm evening shower or footbath can help to induce sleep and reduce heat stress. Keep your bedroom dark during day and night, and ventilate it at the coolest moment of the day.
Try to keep a regular day and night schedule, even if your sleep is disrupted. If you do nap, never nap longer than about 20 minutes. We also propose tips for those more affected by heatwaves: older adults, children, pregnant women and those with physical and mental health problems.

Good luck keeping it cool."

Infographic "How to Sleep during a Heatwave"

Download the “How to Sleep During a Heatwave” Infographic in PDF format:

Article and infographic based on:

Altena et al., 2023. How to deal with sleep problems during heatwaves: practical recommendations from the European Insomnia Network. Journal of Sleep Research.

Article written by:

Kate Porcheret

Kate Porcheret

Postdoctoral Researcher at the Norwegian Center for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, Oslo, Norway and a member of the ESRS Digital and Communication Committee.

Recent publications from ESRS members

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  2. Strumberger et al. (2023). Sleep disturbance, but not depression severity, is associated with inflammation in children and adolescents. J Clin Sleep Med.
  3. Delijaj et al. (2023). Effects of telemonitoring follow-up, side effects and other factors on CPAP adherence. J Clin Sleep Med.
  4. Ssegonja et al. (2023). Economic evaluation of telemonitoring as a follow-up approach for patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome starting treatment with continuous positive airway pressure. J Sleep Res.
  5. Denis et al. (2023). Functional recovery after ischemic stroke: Impact of different sleep health parameters. J Sleep Res.
  6. Gnarra et al. (2023). Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder: a narrative review from a technological perspective. Sleep.
  7. Gvozdanovic et al. (2023). Neural correlates of sleep-induced benefits on traumatic memory processing. Hum Brain Mapp.
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