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Why Are These Hot Nights Making Me Feel Like A Zombie?

To say we've been experiencing hot summer nights lately is a massive understatement.

Much of the country has been experiencing heatwave conditions that offer little relief at night.

Record overnight temperatures have seen the mercury actually RISE in the early hours, leaving many of us feeling like we're sleeping in an oven.

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And as result many of us are having interrupted sleep that leave us waking up in the morning feeling like a zombie!

According to sleep researchers we need cooler weather for a good nights sleep which is no real surprise, but the impact of a restless sleep due to the hot weather can effect you more than just feeling like you have jetlag or a hangover.

To get to sleep, your body temperature needs to drop and you should also have cool air around you.

If you don't cool down, you end up in a cycle of dozing, dropping off to sleep, then waking again.

Christopher Gordon, a research scientist in thermal biology and sleep at the Sydney Nursing School says:

"For us to fall asleep, what needs to happen is a thermal or body temperature cascade has to occur. What has to happen is that you need to get rid of heat from the body ... the maximal rate of core temperate decline gives you the greatest opportunity to get to sleep,"

Which leave us feeling fatigued like we are suffering from insomnia. 

"Insomnia leads to decreased productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism, more likely to suffer from common illnesses and infections," says Gordon.

He says the design of our house can affect our sleep. If you are relying solely on open windows and fans to cool down at night our sleep will be affected.

"You can't move more amounts of heat and because it's been quite humid you are more likely to sweat and the sweat will stay on your skin because it's warm ... and then you wake up because you are uncomfortable."

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So, if your sleep is being greatly affected by the heat, should you invest in air conditioning?

Gordon is a sleep researcher so won't comment if we can blame our sleeplessness on climate change, but does say this:

"The issue is how much are we going to have to change our environment to cope with that increase in temperature."

Some of us sleep naked under a fan while others crank up the aircon and sleep under the doona.

Siobhan Banks from the Centre for Sleep Research suggests using two fans, one for each bed occupant. Or a shower before bed which can help your body get rid of its heat.

She also says if you are poking your legs out from under the sheets, it may be a sign you are trying to cool your body down.

"When you are constantly having restricted or impaired sleep that will lead to feeling more sleepy and less productive during the day."

"There are safety concerns in the workplace ... and everyone is going to feel a lot more exhausted." 

Have you tried these tips or do you have any other suggestions about keeping cool at night?

Tell us your tips in the comments below.

SMH

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