It’s not in your head – when the temperature rises, so does your child’s wakefulness. Registered sleep consultant and managing director of Good Night Baby Jolandi Becker, explains this is because, as your body prepares for sleep, you experience a drop in core body temperature. This helps to regulate your 24-hour body clock (also known as circadian rhythms), which in turn regulates the sleep-wake cycle. But, when it’s too hot, it’s hard for your body to achieve that drop in core temperature. What’s more, Jolandi says there is a link between hot temperatures and night wakings, nightmares, and an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Try these tips to keep your little one cool on hot summer nights:
Keep the house cool
If you don’t have air con or fans, make sure the curtains and blinds are closed throughout the day. This will stop warm air from entering the room. You can always open the windows and doors to let in a cooling draft when the temperature drops in the late afternoon. You may also find it helpful to invest in block out curtains to keep the sun out.
Synthetic fabrics don’t breathe, so opt for cotton and linen PJs. In fact, your baby can skip pyjamas altogether and sleep in a nappy. The same goes for bed linen, Jolandi says. Here, too, cotton is best. Obviously, you can leave off the blankets, but if you are serious about cooling things down, you can even place the pillowcases and sheets in the freezer during the day. Also, make sure that air can circulate around the sleep space: move the bed or the cot away from walls, and if there are bumpers in the cot, take those out, too. Another handy tip: look out for heating bead pads available from most pharmacies – they can also be stored in the freezer and placed in bed with your toddler.
A cool night time
Avoid hot, heavy meals at dinner when it’s really hot, Jolandi advises. Afterwards, add more cool water than warm to the bath, and make sure there’s a leak-proof sippy cup full of ice cubes next to the bed.
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.