sleep dream freud theory
Cotton bedsheets allow the skin to breathe and for sweat to evaporate iStock

Britain is experiencing a mini-heatwave, with temperatures soaring above 30C in many parts of the UK. But with the mercury staying as high at night as on some of our days, it is getting increasingly difficult to get a good night's sleep - especially as most Britons don't have air-conditioning units at home.

So what is the best way to sleep better without tossing and turning in the hot, humid summer weather?

Open the windows

An hour before you go to bed, open the windows to allow a flow of air through your home. If you live in a busy area, you might need earplugs to block out outside noise. If you live in a ground-floor flat or in a bungalow – or are prone to insect bites – it may be safer to invest in an electric fan. Although they aren't silent, the drone of a cooling fan might still be better than the noise of people or traffic outside.

Close the curtains

During the day, close the blinds to prevent the hot sun shining through your home and heating it up like a greenhouse. Light or reflective material works best, as metallic or dark curtains can make a room even hotter.

One tip used by people living in the Mediterranean is to open curtains on the shady side of the house and close them on the sunny side.

Get an ice pack

A 'cold water bottle', or ice-pack wrapped in towels and placed in a pillowcase, can help cool you down.

Drink water
Drinking water throughout the day will keep you hydrated when it's time for bed iStock

Turn off electrical items

Turning off items such as laptops can help cool a bedroom down as they tend to generate heat.

Have a lukewarm shower

It is tempting to jump into an ice-cold shower before going to bed, but this won't actually do much to cool you down overnight. While an icy shower will provide momentary respite from the heat, it will close your pores, meaning you'll sweat less – which means your body won't be able to cool itself properly.

Drink less alcohol

When the sun is out, the temptation is to drink more to enjoy the hot weather while it lasts – but this will only lower your chances of getting a good night's sleep. Even a couple of drinks can interfere with the normal sleep process.

When you drink close to bedtime, you can go straight into a deep sleep, skipping the normal first stage of sleep called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Alcohol is also a diuretic, which means it encourages the body to lose extra fluid through sweating or urination, which makes you dehydrated.

Although tempting on a hot day, alcohol before bed can disrupt sleep iStock

Use a thinner duvet

Switch your normal duvet for a thinner, lower-tog cover – or abandon it entirely and use a bedsheet.

Use cotton sheets

Cotton sheets allow the skin to breathe more than silk, nylon or other synthetic materials. If you are really suffering from the heat, try putting the bedsheets in a plastic bag and placing them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes before putting them back on the bed.

Keep hydrated

Dehydration is a significant risk in a heatwave, so drinking plenty of water during the day will keep you comfortable when night comes. Keeping a cool glass of water by the bed can help cool you down if you wake up frazzled in the night.

Soak a flannel

If you feel very overheated, place a flannel soaked in cold water on your forehead or anywhere you feel hot.