How to cool off in a heat wave: should you really drink tea and sleep naked when it’s hot?

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A British heatwave is a momentous occasion for your calendars: expected, loved and denounced in equal measure, and usually short-lived. With temperatures reaching over 30 degrees this week, you might be wondering how to stay cool. There’s no shortage of weird and wonderful heat wave hacks, but which ones actually work? We asked the experts to check out the best ways to stay cool in hot weather – consider this your heatwave cheat sheet.

The statement: Keep all your windows and curtains closed

“It is natural on a hot day to keep all your windows and doors open,” says Dr Alannah Hare, private NHS sleep consultant at Royal Brompton. “However, the best thing to do is to keep your windows closed and your curtains drawn all day. It’s all down to temperature differences. When you open your windows in the morning, it’s cool and pleasant, but when the sun rises throughout the day, it heats the inside of your home.

“If you keep your windows and curtains closed until dusk, your house will be very cool when you go to bed. When the sun goes down, open your curtains and windows and you will feel a nice breeze going through your house, which will help you to sleep.

Verdict: True

The claim: Drink hot tea to refresh yourself

It’s long been established that staying hydrated is essential during a heat wave. However, whether or not you should boil an infusion in heat has been the subject of intense scientific debate.

In 2012, a landmark study led by Ollie Jay of the University of Ottawa found that when thermosensors in the mouth and throat detect heat, the brain activates a sweat response. Sweat then absorbs body heat and evaporates it into the air. As a result, the team concluded that drinking hot beverages can cool you down in certain environments.

However, drinking a hot latte while wearing long sleeves and pants will not work, as the sweat must evaporate, and the temperature reduction caused by sweating must exceed the temperature increase caused by drinking a drink. hot. But drinking tea in a sundress or short-sleeved shirt can help refresh you slightly.

Verdict: True

The claim: Have a hot curry

Gazpacho, ice cream, cold fruit salad – and curry? Several foods can have a cooling effect, and one of them seems to be chili. It might seem counterintuitive – anyone who’s had a really hot curry will know why – but it makes sense, given that many of the world’s spiciest cuisines are found in hot climates.

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The theory is simple: fight fire with fire. Hot and spicy foods, which usually contain chili, contain a chemical called capsaicin. When consumed, it heats up the body and you start sweating. The evaporation of this sweat draws heat away from the body. Supposedly, cold foods will only cool you down for a short time, while hot, spicy foods will provide longer term cooling.

Several other ingredients often found in curries are believed to have cooling properties, such as turmeric. It should be noted, however, that in order to sweat you need to stay hydrated, so drink plenty of water.

Verdict: True (but it may not feel like it)

The claim: Stay out of the sun

Dietitian Helen Bond says, “Being careful in the sun is wise, and I certainly wouldn’t advise sitting in a beer garden or park for a few hours in the sun at lunchtime. But a 15-minute walk exposing your hands, face, and arms to the sun will give you a fantastic amount of vitamin D to keep your levels up all year round.

Verdict: Fake

The claim: Have a cold beer tonight

“Britons tend to get very excited about a sunny spell,” says Bond. “However, drinking too much alcohol during a heat wave is about the worst thing you can do. In cold weather, alcohol is dehydrating, but in hot weather the effects are compounded and if you drink during the day and outside you are more likely to get burned because the pleasure of drinking keeps people in. A few beers is fine, but no more than that, and drink a glass of water before, between and after each beer.

“People tend to drink more Pimm’s and beer during a heat wave and then have a double whammy of bad sleep, from the effects of alcohol and heat,” adds Hare. “Then drink moderately.”

Verdict: Fake

The claim: Take a cold shower before bed

“It’s something people always tell me they do when it’s hot, but it doesn’t work,” Hare says. “After a long, hot day in an office, it’s tempting to blast yourself in a cold shower just before bed. But the problem is that the body then increases its core temperature to compensate for the cold water, which makes you feel warmer once you’re in bed and makes sleeping more uncomfortable. It’s far better to take a lukewarm bath or shower, so your body doesn’t try to warm up.

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Verdict: Fake

The claim: Put your pillow in the freezer

We’ve all heard this one, but does it really work? “Yeah, but don’t put your whole pillow in there, just the pillowcase,” Hare says. “About an hour before you want to go to bed, put your pillowcase in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for about 40 minutes. Then put it on just before you go to bed, and it will be nice and cool on your skin. You know that feeling you get on a hot night when you flip your pillow to feel the cool side? It’s like that, but 100 times better.

Verdict: True

The claim: sleeping naked

“People always ask me about it,” says Hare. “If you wear natural fibres, like cotton, you will feel cooler at night than if you were naked because cotton wicks sweat away from your skin. However, anything man-made or synthetic will keep the heat close to your skin. And the same goes for bedding. So if I had the choice between cotton and nudity, I would choose cotton. But if you’re choosing between synthetics and nudity, go naked.

Verdict: Inconclusive

The Claim: Don’t Exercise

Working out can become a sweaty endeavor – though some hardy souls will carry on regardless. Exercising in extreme heat puts extra stress on the body and can be dangerous, leading to a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat cramps to heat stroke.

That doesn’t mean you have to avoid it altogether, but you do need to understand how to recognize the symptoms and know your limits. The warning signs, according to the Mayo Clinic, are numerous, including cramps, nausea, excessive sweating, dizziness, rapid heartbeat and visual problems. “By taking a few basic precautions, your exercise routine doesn’t have to be shelved when the heat is on.”

Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Know how fit you are. If you’re new to working out, take extra precautions. Go for something less intense and stay hydrated.
  • Hydration is key. Drink regularly and don’t wait until you are thirsty. If you sweat profusely, consider an isotonic sports drink, which will replace minerals and nutrients lost through sweating, such as sodium, chloride, and potassium.
  • Wear the right gear. Keep it light and loose, and choose a material that promotes evaporation. Dark colors, which absorb heat, should be avoided.
  • Cover up with a hat and wear plenty of sunscreen. Sunburn interferes with your body’s ability to cool itself.
  • Exercise early in the morning to avoid the worst of the heat
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Verdict: Fake

The claim: Read heat wave advice (like this one)

“There are two things Brits like to talk about: the weather and their sleep,” says Hare. “During a heat wave, people start panicking about their sleep, which makes them unable to sleep. So try not to worry too much about it. Maybe your sleep will be a little disturbed, but that’s okay. You’ll manage to get enough sleep to get by, and just think, in a few months it’ll be cold again and we’ll start worrying about it again.

Verdict: Inconclusive

Telegraph readers share their sleep tips during the heatwave

Here is a selection of the comments you left on our heat wave stories. Please continue to share your tips with us in the section below this article.

Jasmine Maddock: I put an ice pack in the bed for a little while to cool the bed, and I find that a cup of tea helps, ironically, the heat cools your body.

Mikel Crawley: We lay a duvet on the floor near an open doorway for air to pass through and sleep on the duvet cover.

Linden Airey: If you wear clothes to bed, dampen the clothes slightly. With this type of heat, humidity can be your friend! If you can’t fall back asleep after waking up at night, use a damp washcloth to cool your skin.

Anonymous reader:

Put a large bath towel on your bed. Take a cool or barely lukewarm shower, then lie down on your still damp towel – preferably naked. Ideally, also have a fan blowing towards the bed at a low temperature – the water will evaporate on your body and lower your temperature. The towel will stay slightly damp and cool you down because the water that evaporates there too.

This article has been updated with the latest information for the summer.


What are your heatwave hacks? Tell us in the comments below

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