Heatwave puts June on course to be among hottest on record in Switzerland

As Switzerland sweats under a heatwave this week, meteorologists have said the month of June is likely to be among the second or third hottest ever recorded – though it won’t quite beat 2003’s record.

Heatwave puts June on course to be among hottest on record in Switzerland
People cool down in the 2015 heatwave in Lausanne. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Temperatures topped 30 degrees in many parts of the country on Tuesday and look set to stay that way for the rest of the week and beyond. 
MeteoNews issued a heatwave alert for much of Switzerland and said the hot weather will persist until the beginning of next week at the earliest. 
Temperatures up to 35 degrees are possible, especially in Basel, the Valais and Ticino.
“Given the heatwave this week, this month of June 2017 should be the second or third hottest June in Switzerland since records began more than 150 years ago,” it said. 
Only June 2003 is likely to be hotter. 
MeteoSuisse said the average monthly temperature across the country was around three degrees hotter than the norm. 
The monthly average won’t surpass the 24 degrees of June 2003, but “there is every chance that 2017 will take second place,” it said, beating 2002 when the average was 20.5 degrees.
The European heatwave of 2003 caused the death of 70,000 people across the continent including 975 in Switzerland, seven percent more than the country's normal death rate, according to the Office of public health.
The heat is most dangerous for young children and people aged over 65. 
Several cities have emergency measures in place to help elderly people suffering in the heat. 
Authorities in Lausanne and Geneva pay visits to the over 75s during a heatwave and have established a helpline for those concerned. 
Generally, people are advised to avoid going out in the heat during the hours of 11am to 6pm, to drink around two litres of water a day, eat cold meals and avoid physical exercise. 
Source: MeteoSuisse

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‘Don’t sleep naked’: How to get a good night’s sleep in a Swiss heatwave

As temperatures climb again, many people may struggle to get a good night's sleep in Switzerland. Here are some expert tips to help you even when it's sweltering hot.

‘Don’t sleep naked’: How to get a good night’s sleep in a Swiss heatwave

Switzerland’s summers tend to get hotter and this season has seen its share of heatwaves, bringing temperatures closer to 40C and making it almost impossible to sleep.

This could mean trouble for residents of a country better prepared to bear the cold weather than the extreme heat.

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has three ‘golden rules’ for how to make it through heatwaves; avoid exercise during the hottest part of the day, keep the heat out of your house however you can, drink and eat smart (fresh foods and lots of water).

With night temperatures in some regions above 20C, Swiss residents will also need some help getting through the night.

Here are a few tips to keep cool overnight and enjoy better sleep despite the heat of the night.

Don’t sleep naked

It’s tempting to ditch the PJs when it’s this warm overnight. But sleep experts say this is a mistake, as any moisture from sweat accumulates on your body.

Cotton pyjamas and cotton sheets are very effective in absorbing and removing sweat from your body.

Give a little help to your internal clock

Many people think that it is only the extreme heat in summer making your sleep seem a bit worse than in the colder months. But the fact that days are brighter for longer makes a huge difference.

READ ALSO: How Switzerland’s largest cities are combating the heat

As light suppresses our body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that signals that it is time to sleep, the longer days irritate our internal clock, according to sleep experts.

The old tip of turning off your devices to avoid the blue light is also extra crucial. So around one hour before going to bed, you can start your “darkening” ritual throughout your home.

In that sense, it’s also better to avoid naps during the day to keep a better sleep routine.

Try to cool your room and yourself

Of course, the cooler temperatures are in your bedroom when you go to sleep, the better. You can help get temperatures a few degrees down by following these tips: keep the blinds and windows shut during the worst of the day and ventilate the cooler night breeze during the night.

Sleeping during a heatwave can be difficult. Photo: Yuris Alhumaydy / Unsplash

You can also moisten your curtains just before bedtime and leave the window open; the water evaporation will make it a bit cooler. If you can, another tip is to put your mattress on the floor as hot air rises – excellent advice for those sleeping on a bunk bed.

Don’t forget to turn off (and unplug!) electrical appliances, as those are heat sources.

READ ALSO: Eight great swimming spots to escape the Swiss summer heat

To cool yourself, you could take a lukewarm evening shower (not a hot one, those will make your body react by generating heat).

Fans and humidity help

As long as you’ve kept your room relatively cool, fans work. They help evaporate sweat which, in turn, helps your body regulate its temperature.

Putting a bowl of ice in front of the fan can also help cool the room.

Some people swear by dampening their sheets before going to bed. But if you’re not used to it, the feeling can be a little disconcerting. You can also place multiple ice containers in the corners of your room, which will melt slowly overnight and cool the air.

Why is it essential to have a good night’s sleep?

Several days of scorching temperatures can cause heat stress, according to the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

If the nights are not cool enough, the body can’t recover from the heat of the day, creating a dangerous condition called “thermal stress”, which can be fatal for the elderly and other vulnerable people.

While there are no statistics showing how many people have fallen victim to heat stress during the most recent heatwave, several cantons have implemented a system of home visits and frequent phone contact with this at-risk group.

READ MORE: How to keep your cool during Switzerland’s heatwave