How to eat, sleep and stay cool during the UK summer heatwave

·7 min read
How to eat sleep stay cool during uk summer 2022 heatwave hot weather tips kids families young children august
How to eat sleep stay cool during uk summer 2022 heatwave hot weather tips kids families young children august

If you’re going to get through the hot weather, you need a strategy - and it might have to be more extensive than “hide inside and make your way through a box of mini Magnums with your feet in a bucket of water”.

While we love a spot of good weather - particularly in time for the weekend, with temperatures getting close to the too-hot-to-eat, sleep or think zone, it’s difficult to know what to do with yourself, let alone what to do with children or pets.

Many are understandably returning in their droves to offices, keen to make use of the air conditioning. But if you're going to be in fan-free zone this weekend, we've got some top tips to make sure you and your family survive the hot weather that we Brits are simply not used to.

If you are spending the week largely at home, here is your definitive guide to staying cool during the heatwave.

What to eat during a heatwave

How to eat sleep stay cool during uk summer 2022 heatwave hot weather tips kids families young children frozen vegetables - Issaurinko
How to eat sleep stay cool during uk summer 2022 heatwave hot weather tips kids families young children frozen vegetables - Issaurinko

Ice your veg

It’s easy to lose your appetite entirely when it’s hot, but at some point you’re going to want something to nibble on. Have crunchy crudites like cucumber, radishes and celery on hand to be served fridge-cold on a plate of ice (yes, iced veg is what you need). Don’t go too hard on the cheese and crackers as both are packed with salt and can be dehydrating.

Chill out with soup

The Spanish Ajo blanco (almonds, toasted bread, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar and chilled water all blended together) is delicious but if you fancy something more British, Diana Henry has a great recipe for a chilled courgette and basil soup, and a pea, crab and radish soup, both of which you can find at telegraph.co.uk/recipes.

Make a dip

Yoghurt is very cooling. Try mixing 300ml of full fat natural or Greek yoghurt with a small grated garlic clove, plenty of finely chopped mint, olive oil and the juice of a lemon. Or if you have a bit of stale bread, try blitzing it with a few tomatoes, a couple of cloves of garlic, salt, black pepper, olive oil and a slosh of red wine vinegar. We call it tomato gloop in my house, and straight from the fridge it’s one of the most refreshing things to dunk things into in the summer.

Watermelon is a key ingredient

Given it’s 92 per cent H2O, a cold watermelon is a very good thing to have around. Slice into wedges and squeeze lime juice over them (citrus is also very cooling). A sprinkle of chilli is a good addition, too – research says you should eat spicy food when it’s hot as it’ll make you sweat, which oddly can be a more effective way to cool down than eating a pint of ice cream. Watermelon makes for a lovely salad with feta, mint and red onion. Or you can freeze chunks of it and blitz to make a granita for when the lollies run out.

Thirst quenchers

Drinking coconut water How to eat sleep stay cool during uk summer 2022 heatwave hot weather tips kids families young children - ShotShare
Drinking coconut water How to eat sleep stay cool during uk summer 2022 heatwave hot weather tips kids families young children - ShotShare

Coconut cooler

Coconut water is packed with what are known as electrolyte minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium. Some nutritionists say coconut water is on a par with an isotonic drink when it comes to its hydrating, electrolyte-restoring properties. Studies have found drinking it before exercising can improve your ability to do so in high temperatures.

Make your own iced coffee

If you’re a coffee addict but can’t face hot drinks, the brilliant food writer Georgina Hayden has a great hack for making your own caffe frappe. Avoid caffeine as this can be diuretic. Take 2tsp decaf Nescafé, 1.5tsp sugar, a tall glass filled halfway with very cold water, ice and a little milk. Put coffee, sugar and water in a cocktail shaker and shake like your life depends on it. Pour the frothy frappe into a glass, top with a little more cold water and then a bit of milk.

Cider punch

Received wisdom says you shouldn’t drink alcohol in the heat because it makes you need the loo, risking further dehydration. However, the British Nutrition Foundation found that beer or cider contain more liquid than you lose, so you make a net gain. Neat spirits are dehydrating, but this is offset by the mixer and ice. Wine, however, should be avoided; you lose a third of a litre of water for every bottle you consume. Try making Cider Punch: four bottles of cider, 250ml of orange juice, two bottles of ginger beer, one slice apple, one slice orange, plenty of ice, and rum (optional) – refreshing!

Blueberry spritz

Fresh orange, pineapple, grapefruit, apple, blueberry and grape juice all contain lots of vitamin C which has been shown to help reduce the time it takes your body to adjust when you step into the heat by energising your sweat glands. Squeeze your own for a stronger hit of vitamin C. Pour over ice and top with sparkling water. Add rum as required.

How to sleep during a heatwave

Sleep side How to eat stay cool during uk summer 2022 heatwave hot weather tips kids families young children - Prostock-Studio
Sleep side How to eat stay cool during uk summer 2022 heatwave hot weather tips kids families young children - Prostock-Studio

Open up the loft

Remember heat rises, so even if your bedroom is on the first floor, it’s important to open the windows at the top of the house, too. Getting some air flow going on the top floor is going to help make the whole house cooler. It’s also worth considering the tip that went viral on Tiktok. Rosaline Webb recommended shutting all the windows on the south side (or the side that receives the most sunlight) and drawing the curtains to stop the light and heat flooding in. Open the windows on the cooler side, or whichever side is in the shade, to let the cool air in. And if you can, don’t sleep in a room that gets the sun in the morning.

Put a glass of ice in front of your fan

If you don’t have an especially fancy one, sometimes a fan can feel a bit like you’re just moving warm air around the room. Place a pint glass full of ice in front of it, and you’ll have cool, slightly damp air blowing over you all night.

Sleep on your side

If you tend to sleep on your front or back, try falling asleep on your side to maximise the amount of your body exposed to the air. It’ll make it easier to regulate your own temperature.

Fill a hot water bottle with cold water

Some swear by a wet flannel over their forehead when trying to get to sleep in the heat. Instead, fill your hot water bottle with icy cold water and stick it between your feet – if your feet are cool, the rest of your body will follow.

What to wear during a heatwave

How to eat sleep stay cool during uk summer 2022 heatwave hot weather tips kids families young children - Streetstyleshooters/Getty Images
How to eat sleep stay cool during uk summer 2022 heatwave hot weather tips kids families young children - Streetstyleshooters/Getty Images

Keep it natural

Natural fabrics will keep you significantly cooler than synthetic fibres. Cotton voile is an extra lightweight fabric that’s perfect for hot weather – if slightly transparent. Ditch the denim in favour of chinos or linen trousers.

Cover up

It may sound counterintuitive, but covering up in a sleeved shirt and trousers, or a cotton maxi dress, can keep you cooler. Just think about how it feels to get up from a cheap plastic chair when wearing short shorts and you’ll understand why. Covering up will also keep your skin protected from the sun.

Cut loose

Staying cool is all about maximising potential for air flow around the body, and this is best achieved with breezy, oversized garments. Cabana shirts, wide-legged trousers and tiered dresses are all perfect.

No sweat

Sweat is an inevitability, even with a decent deodorant. If you stick to clothing with detailed patterns or in lighter colours those damp patches will be less obvious. Pale shades also absorb less heat than darker ones.

This article is kept updated with the latest information.

What are your top tips to stay cool during a heatwave? Share your experiences in the comments section below