Surprising heatwave hacks to keep you cool

Overheated sweaty african woman holding blue handheld fan posing isolated on grey background. Female feels unwell cooling in summer weather, girl suffers from heat waving fan relief hot day concept
Hey, hey, it's a heatwave! (Getty Creative)

After a couple of weeks of grey clouds, the return of the summer sun has lifted spirits.

But now, reports are predicting the mercury will soar to record temperatures this week - and we're looking down the barrel of a major heatwave.

From sweating profusely to struggling with insomnia, if you're already feeling clammy at the thought of this week's scorcher, here's some less well-known hacks for keeping cool when its super-hot.

Stick the kettle on

Sure it might sound counterintuitive, but drinking a hot drink increases the body’s heat load and the body responds to that by sweating.

This sweat then cools on the surface of the skin, reducing the sensation of us being too warm and ultimately, making us feel cooler.

"You may not think it, but enjoying a hot drink, such as tea or coffee, can result in less heat being stored in your body," explains David Wiener, from fitness and lifestyle coaching app Freeletics. "Drinking something hot means that you will sweat more, and therefore, cool you down much quicker than if you were drinking something cold.

But, one caveat is if you’re drinking a hot drink in an environment where the sweat won’t evaporate. So if it's very humid, that hot cuppa might not do the trick.

Read more: Here's how to cope in extreme heat

Ditch the iced water

Interestingly, iced water and iced drinks don’t actually help cool you down that much, as the body overcompensates to warm the liquid to body temperature.

"My biggest tip for keeping cool in the summer is not drinking ice cold water!" explains pharmacist, Mina Khan.

"Although this can seem like a great idea and may feel refreshing at the time, drinks that are too cold when your body temperature is high can actually be really dangerous.

They can cause your body to go into spasm due to the difference in temperature, which can lead to a rapid reduction in blood pressure and heart rate.

"Drinking ice cold water when you're hot can also lead to nausea and stomach pain, as well as a multitude of digestive issues. Instead I'd suggest opting for plenty of room temperature water when the weather's hot, this has been found sufficient for staying hydrated and keeping cool."

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Try putting your sheets in the freezer instead. (Getty Images)

Stick your PJs in the freezer

Place them in an air-tight bag first though. “The ultimate hack for improving your slumber in a heatwave is to put your pyjamas into the freezer before bed," says Terrys resident interior designer Rebecca Challinor.

"Take them out just before you’re ready to sleep and you’ll find you’re perfectly chilled and able to go to sleep quickly and easily. Just be sure to use a Ziplock bag, you only want your PJ’s to be cold not wet!

If you don’t have much room in your freezer, even putting your pillowcase in will help.

Wear your socks in bed

We know it’s controversial to wear socks to bed in general, never mind in hot temperatures but it actually works to cool your body down. According to the sleep experts at Linens Limited people that wear socks to bed not only fall asleep quicker but as they keep your feet warm, this opens up your blood vessels and cools the entire body down. Who knew?

Take a warm shower

Taking a cool shower may be your first choice when the temperature is high, and this does well to cool the body down with an immediate effect, however, a warm shower actually helps to cool your body temperature down, and studies show that people that take a warm shower 1-2 hours before bed have a better sleep quality. This is due to the warm shower increasing blood flow to the hands and feet which then causes a heat release allowing the body’s core temperature to cool down.

Read more: Need to cool down? Add this best-selling Amazon fan to your basket

Change up your charging

Shift your charging routine to the morning, instead of overnight and charge your devices in the rooms you’re not going to be in. "It’ll keep you cool whilst your devices charge, as a few devices plugged in create extra heat," explains AO.com’s small appliance expert, Tori Miller.

"If you’re in a rush, switch your devices to airplane mode and turn off Wi-Fi connection, to help optimise your charging."

Create a DIY cold compress

Miller suggests filling a clean sock with rice and sticking it in the freezer. "It’s super easy and won’t melt and drip, so it can be kept on your lap, feet or back of your neck to keep you cool," he adds.

Be fan smart

If you’ve got one or more fans, place them practically. "Pop a fan near a window and another in the middle of the room," suggests Miller. "It’ll create a cross breeze and circulate the cool air from the outside which is far better than just one fan oscillating".

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Water should be at room temperature not iced to help cool you down. (Getty Images)

Don’t sleep naked

While it may seem tempting to sleep naked, this could actually make you more uncomfortable. Choose lightweight PJs instead. “Loose-fitting, cotton nightwear is naturally breathable and cooling,” explains Suzy Reading, Tempur sleep expert and chartered psychologist. “But avoid man-made products like nylon and polyester.”

Breath yourself cool

Sitali breathing is a yoga breathing practice and a way to make cool air yourself. Reading says it’s best to be seated. "On inhalation only, curl up your tongue like a straw and sip in your breath through your tongue, the air will feel very cool," she says. "Then close your mouth and exhale slowly through your nose. This is a soothing and cooling practice to use before bed to help you relax. Just five minutes can be very effective and is a meditative way to prepare for sleep."

Eat light

Make sure your evening meals are smaller in summer and avoid overly spicy, heavy, fatty meals or proteins high in saturated fats. "Our bodies use more energy to digest a large, rich or heavy supper, which means we produce more metabolic heat – not ideal before bed," explains Reading. "Lean proteins such as chicken and fish are good substitutes for red meat which has a high fat content. Keep your body temperature consistent by having a light evening meal in summer."

Watch: UK set for a heatwave.

Create an airflow

According to Katie Thomas, founder of interior design company KTM Design it is useful to have fenestration – windows and doors – regularly open on opposite sides of the room to encourage natural ventilation. "I’d recommend opening windows when they’re in the shade, but keeping them closed when they’re exposed to natural sunlight to keep the hot air out – and close the curtains," she explains.

Switch up your deodorant

Swapping out your regular anti-perspirant for natural deodorant could help you stay cool and sweet smelling this heatwave.

"Unlike regular anti-perspirant, which blocks your pores and your body's natural mechanism to stay cool, natural deodorant works by absorbing any wetness and odours without blocking your pores, keeping you cool and sweet smelling,” explains Rachel Hardwick, Owner, www.Creme-Fresh.com.

Try a splash cologne

An unusual hack for a heat wave that is really popular in Italy and Spain, is the use of ‘splash colognes’.

"These are colognes that are lightly scented with citrus which are applied all over the body," explains Huib Maat, inhouse perfumer at Pairfum London.

"The evaporating alcohol cools the body instantly and because it is so lightly scented, it can be used liberally and frequently throughout the day."

Make your own cold air

The Sleep Charity’s deputy CEO, Lisa Artis suggests putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan to help generate some cold air. Rather than moving existing warm air around the room, the ice will cool the air circulated by the fan, working to cool your room down. But remember not to keep it on all night.

Open the hatch to your loft/attic

If you have an attic or loft, open the hatch to it. "This will give the hot air in the house somewhere to escape to and will bring down the room temperature in the bedrooms," explains Artis.

Wear sports kit

Gym clothing is extremely light-weight, and is usually made of breathable fabric that allows for your body to stay cool during a workout. "So, the same goes for when you’re out and about during a heatwave, exposing yourself to heat all day," Wiener explains.

Freeze your hot water bottle

“Pull out your hot water bottle, but fill it with ice cold water and have it in bed with you," suggests Artis. This will create guaranteed cold spots in your bed to help cool you down.

Turn off the tech

A surprising amount of heat is generated from appliances around the house, and switching them off can help avoid the rooms feeling too humid. "Turn electricals off from the mains when not in use, don’t just leave them on standby)," says GP Dr Ross Perry medical director of Cosmedics.

"And make sure the backs of fridges and freezers have plenty of ventilation space – these appliances in particular can pump a lot of unnecessary heat into a room."

Read more: Signs and symptoms of heat stroke and how can you prevent it?

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Create a better flow with the placement of your fan. (Getty Images)

Use aloe vera gel to cool your skin

Slather the gel on your skin for an instant cool-down effect and up the ante by putting it in the fridge. As a bonus, aloe vera is an excellent aid for sunburn, too.

Shut the windows and curtains

This might seem a bit counterintuitive at first, but according to Dr Senn keeping them shut during the day is critical, as it ensures that your room stays cooler than if the sun is allowed to shine inside. "Once the sun has gone down, you can open your windows and curtains to allow a fresh breeze to roll over you," she adds.

Watch: Dehydration tip on TikTok will tell you if you're parched.