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How to keep your cool in a heatwave

Last week you might have been reaching for your jumper, but a sudden heatwave has taken us all by surprise. In these conditions it’s a struggle to sleep, clothes feel like a needless invention, and getting in the car can feel like dropping into Dante’s inferno. We’re on hand to help you survive the scorcher and go from sweltering to flourishing with these easy steps.

1. Take a cool shower before bed

As we settle down for the night, our body temperature naturally lowers to pave the way for a good night’s sleep. This is why keeping a bedroom cool can help us to drift off. Easier said than done during a heatwave, of course. But having a cold shower or bath in the evening can help to lower our core temperature and give the body a helping hand.

2. Defrost your freezer

Have you been putting off defrosting your freezer for a year or more, whilst that bag of frozen peas steadily disappears behind an excessive build-up of ice? Now is your moment to shine and to reap the benefits of ticking a household chore off the list. Removing large chunks of melting ice from your freezer is all the more fun in a heatwave. Never has a chilling chore been so enjoyable.

3. Go to public places with aircon

Most houses in the UK are not equipped with aircon, but lots of public spaces are. If you feel like you need a break from the heat, head to your nearest air-conditioned bank, cinema or supermarket. (Standing in the frozen aisle can really do the trick.)

4. Shut your curtains during the day

Drawing the curtains or blinds on the sunny side of the house can help stop the greenhouse effect and keep rooms cool. (Well, cooler.) But, be aware that dark curtains or metal blinds could make matters worse by actually absorbing heat.

5. Get a fan

Where you put your fan is important too. Try positioning it near the window so it propels cooler air in the room. Another neat trick is to place a bowl of ice water or some frozen water bottles in front of the fan so it cools the air as it makes its way over to you. Fan-tastic.

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Stay hydrated by eating foods with a high-water content, such as cucumbers, strawberries and lettuce.

6. Ditch the dark clothes

Dark clothes absorb heat more so opt for light coloured, lightweight and loose-fitting garments. And where possible, strip off! Although we appreciate it may not be possible to sit at your desk with no clothes on. (Unless you have your own office that is.)

Watermelon contains the amino acid citrulline, which helps to dilate your blood vessels, allowing more blood to circulate around your body and cool you down.

7. Chew on a cucumber

Staying hydrated in a heatwave is key. But it isn’t all about the drinks. Foods with a high-water content such as cucumber, strawberries and lettuce can also help you keep your fluid intake up. Watermelon is another good option as this contains the amino acid citrulline, which helps to dilate your blood vessels, allowing more blood to circulate around your body and cool you down.

8. Avoid meat and carbs

Avoid large portions of carbohydrate and protein because these are hard for the body to digest, and the process generates body heat. Stick to meals that are easier to metabolize like salads or roasted veg.

9. Spice up your life

It’s true, a curry can actually cool us down. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chilli, stimulates our thermoreceptors which in turn let our brain know that we’re overheating. Our brain then activates our sweat glands. Vindaloo anyone?

10. Create your own ice cap

Whack a hat in the freezer. Then when you have to head out into the heat, pop it on your noggin and you’ll feel cool as a cucumber. Sticking your sheets (in a plastic bag) inside the freezer before bed can also be very effective. And rather than using the kettle to fill your hot water bottle, give that a stint in the freezer too for a homemade ice-pack.

11. Sleep alone

Two people in bed means twice the body heat. Stretching like a starfish across the bed with a fan on nearby may be the coolest option. Don't forget about the sofa as well - it may be in a cooler room than your bedroom.

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12. Sit on the floor

Hot air rises, so instead of watching TV or reading from a chair, try sitting on the floor. If you have space you can also move your mattress to the floor. Or even better, find a basement.

Dark clothes absorb more heat, so wear light coloured clothes instead.

13. Switch off the lights

Light bulbs and other electrical appliances give off heat. It may not be much, but it all adds up. So make sure you turn off the lights when you leave a room, switch off the telly and keep your hairdryer in its draw.