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Being able to cool down fast is essential in the summer, especially when the temperature rises well above what we're normally used to.
While we're often told it's important to keep babies cool in hot weather and that you should stay cool in pregnancy too, overheating is dangerous for all members of the family. As well as being uncomfortable, being too hot can often lead to symptoms of heat exhaustion, which is why it's important to know how to cool down fast when temperatures soar in the UK.
There are some basic ways to cool down, like getting out of the sun as soon as you feel too warm, or taking a dip in the paddling pool - as long as there's no hosepipe ban, of course! But once you're inside, whether you're trying to sleep in the heat or stop feeling so hot during the day, here's what else you can do to cool down quickly.
How to cool down fast: expert-approved tips
1. Apply ice to particular points on the body
Applying ice to points on your body where the veins are closest to the surface of the skin - such as the insides of your wrists, your neck, chest and temples - can help you cool down fast. This is because the ice will lower the temperature of your blood, which in turn makes your body feel cooler.
Abbas Kanani, lead pharmacist at Chemist Click Online Pharmacy, explains: "Pulse points such as your neck, wrists, temples or the back of your knees are more sensitive to temperature, and cooling them can help bring down your body temperature. You should apply a cold towel or ice pack on these areas and this should help to cool you down."
He adds, "You should always carry a couple of ice packs with you when you're travelling, along with cold water, in case you suddenly overheat."
Abbas graduated as a pharmacist in 2013 and spent the first three years working for high street multiples, including a senior management role with the largest multinational pharmacy in the UK. In 2017, he qualified as an independent prescriber, spending time working in a primary care setting. He then assumed a consulting role within the NHS, providing advisory services on cost savings and clinical efficiencies. He has been within Chemist Click since the very start and continues to play an integral role within the team.
2. Drink coconut water
Everyone knows that one of the benefits of drinking water is its ability to rehydrate the body, especially if you've been out in the sun all day. But a study published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that coconut water may actually be more effective at cooling you down in the short-term than standard tap water.
The additional vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes in coconut water make it a great way to rehydrate following time spent in the sunshine. It also re-energises your body following stress from being too warm over a number of hours.
3. Make a peppermint tea
Menthol has been shown to have a positive effect on our cold receptors, meaning it helps to satiate thirst, ease breathing difficulties and make us feel more alert - as demonstrated in research by Cardiff University's Common Cold Centre.
Peppermint tea contains menthol, and you don't have to drink a hot version of the drink to feel the effects. Diffusing a peppermint tea bag in some cold or ice water produces the same beverage as when it's put into hot water.
For the perfect cooling summer drink, add one peppermint tea bag into a glass full of ice water and stir. Then add some mint leaves, which have the same effect as peppermint, to finish.
Regularly drinking liquids - be it coconut water or peppermint tea - is important in preventing dehydration, which has been shown to increase body heat in a study published by the Journal of Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. If you fancy something a bit more creative, try our raspberry and mint iced tea recipe.
4. Create a cross breeze
Creating a cross breeze in your home will help the space around you feel cooler. Put a fan across the room from a window so the breeze coming through from outside meets with the fan to create a cooling cross-breeze, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. To amp up the effects of this, you could set up more fans around the room.
A popular trick is to put a bottle full of ice water in front of the fan too, to make sure the air is as cool as possible and gently spray ice cold water from the fans as they blow around you.
5. Try the Egyptian method
Made famous not so much from the civilisation but from the hot climate of the country, the so-called Egyptian method is a technique for cooling down quickly, and involves lying between damp sheets in order to lower body temperature.
To give it a go, soak two sheets (a top and bottom sheet) in cold water in the shower or put them through a cold wash in the washing machine. Then wring the sheets out so they're damp, rather than soaking wet, and make your bed as you normally would. The damp sheets deliver a cooling sensation almost immediately, whether you're heading to bed or just looking to lie down out of the sun.
6. Close your curtains
Rooms that face the sun tend to warm up the quickest and get the hottest throughout the day, so to ward off any excess heat coming directly from the sun and into your home, close the curtains.
As Abbas Kanani explains, "If you feel your home is too warm or you're out for long periods during the day, you should keep your curtains closed as this helps to block out heat from the sun and therefore helps keep you cool." It may also be a good ideal to keep windows closed during the hot weather too, in order to keep out the hot air.
If you're looking for a longer-term way to ward off the heat, swap any darker coloured curtains in your home for lighter versions. Lighter-coloured fabrics, whether that be upholstery or clothing, have been proven to reflect heat (as per the University of California), rather than absorb it like dark colours do.
7. Remove pets from the bed
There are plenty of reports which say sleeping in the same bed as your dog can improve your mental health, but it's definitely not the thing to do if you're trying to cool down on a summer's night.
While the average body temperature of a person is somewhere between 36.1°C to 37.2°C, Vets Now say dogs have a body temperature of 38°C to 39.2°C. This means they are an additional source of heat in your bed, making it harder to cool down when they're lying next to you.
In addition, studies have shown that while sleeping with a dog in your bedroom can actually improve the quality of your sleep, trying to share a bed with them may reduce the quality of your sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic Proceedings medical journal.
8. Wear cotton pyjamas
Cotton pyjamas have been proven to help people have deeper, more restorative sleep and fall asleep faster in the warmer months as they're cooling, due to the ventilation and airflow they allow. This finding was noted by a study published in the Nature of Science and Sleep journal.
You might want to swap your bedding for a cotton sheet as well, as Dr Liakas, Medical Director at Vie Aesthetics, explains, "Thin cotton sheets can absorb sweat and are more comfortable than duvets. Your body temperate will begin to fall during the night, so hopefully you won't feel warm and uncomfortable for too long."
So while silk, satin, brush cotton and polyester sheets are ideal for cooler evenings when you're trying to stay warm, lightweight cotton bedsheets are also the ones to go for during the warmer months. Egyptian cotton bedsheets are especially breathable.
9. Limit your exercise
While you might be tempted to get some exercise in on a sunny day, you might want to avoid anything too strenuous when temperatures soar, as this could lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Abbas Kanani says, "Body temperature increases during exercise because heat is created as your muscles create energy. If you need to be active when the weather is hot, you should try to schedule activities during cooler times of the day, such as early morning or late evening.
He adds, "If you do get hot during exercise, try and walk slowly for five to 10 minutes post-workout, as this can help to bring your temperature down. Having a cool towel in the freezer can be helpful to grab after your workout and can also assist in bringing your temperature down."
If you're looking for more ways to beat the heat this summer, we've shared how you can keep the house cool in summer too, and explained how to know when it's too hot to walk your dog. Or, if you want to make the most of the sunshine, check out these guides on the best paddling pools and the best outdoor toys for kids.
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Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for Goodto.com, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics. She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.
- Ellie HutchingsFeatures Editor
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