In recent days, the common complaint of all Brazilians has been the temperature records. If that wasn’t enough, the discomfort also affects the moment of rest, making sleeping a challenge.
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According to the doctor specializing in endocrinology Rodrigo Neves, the difficulty in falling asleep in this climate occurs because the increase in body temperature due to the hot environment makes it difficult to dissipate heat. In this way, the body’s thermal regulation necessary for rest is affected.
Furthermore, high temperatures can impact the production and release of the sleep hormone, melatonin — which is also affected by the use of electronic devices that emit blue light.
“Studies suggest that the ideal ambient temperature to promote sleep is around 18 to 22°C. This range provides an environment cool enough to promote body cooling, making it easier to initiate and maintain sleep. However, Individual preferences may vary, and it is essential to adjust the temperature according to personal comfort”, says endocrinologist Paula Pires, member of SBEM (Brazilian Society of Endocrinology and Metabology).
Neves claims that sleeping in the heat can be harmful, because natural sleep cycles can be affected, leading to superficial rest, with frequent interruptions. Furthermore, the quality of REM sleep can be impacted, causing difficulties with concentration, irritability and cognitive impairment.
Tips to make it easier to sleep in the heat
Experts advise some measures to make rest possible, even in high temperatures:
• Adequate environment, in order to reduce the temperature and facilitate thermal regulation during sleep;
• Light clothing to promote body heat dissipation. Choosing materials like cotton helps keep your skin cool and comfortable;
• A warm bath before bed not only provides relaxation, but also helps to lower body temperature, preparing the body for sleep;
• Adequate hydration throughout the day is essential, but avoid consuming large amounts of fluids before bed to avoid frequent interruptions during the night;
• Light sheets and blankets facilitate heat exchange between the body and the environment, contributing to thermal comfort;
• Blocking light is important to stimulate the natural production of melatonin. Blackout curtains can be useful for blocking outside light;
• Maintain a sleep routine, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This helps regulate circadian rhythms, facilitating the process of falling asleep;
• Limit caffeine consumption until 3pm;
• Avoid using screens before bed, so as not to harm melatonin production;
• Avoid heavy meals or snacks too close to bedtime, as digestion can cause discomfort;
• Avoid intense exercise just before bed, as this can stimulate the body, making relaxation difficult;
• Avoid very long naps in the afternoon to avoid damaging nighttime sleep;
• Avoid stressful activities and worries before bed, looking for relaxation techniques;
• Avoid significant variations in sleep schedules, trying to maintain a regular routine.
Regarding the use of fans and air conditioning, otorhinolaryngologist Roberta Pilla, member of ABORL-CCF (of the Brazilian Association of Otorhinolaryngology and Cervico-Facial Surgery), advises that the devices are not directed at the person.
“The best way is to use the fan in exhaust mode, to also prevent the wind from spreading particles that can cause allergic reactions in the respiratory tract. The blades must be very clean and sanitized.”
Air humidity must also be taken into account. “Heat waves can be associated with low relative humidity, and this makes environmental conditions very uncomfortable. The mucous membranes become dry and more irritated”, says Roberta.
To alleviate the problem, the use of air humidifiers and even homemade measures, such as a damp towel or basin with water, is recommended.
It is also necessary to remember to hydrate the mucous membranes, drinking plenty of water and using saline solution for nasal hydration.
Survival manual: see what to do and what to avoid in this extreme heat wave: