France breaks heat records as heatwave continues

The heatwave continues across France, with advice issued on how to sleep when it is so hot

Temperature records of over 41°C have been broken in France this week as 80 departments remain on heatwave alert and experts issue advice on how to sleep in the heat, which peaks tomorrow.

Bordeaux saw the highest temperature of 41.2°C at 16h15 yesterday (Tuesday July 23) at the weather station at Bordeaux-Mérignac, in a summer record for the city, beating the 40.7°C from August 2003.

Other all-time records included Angers (40.7°C), Rennes (40.1°C) and Blois (40°C).

Heatwave alerts from Meteo France remain in place, including in departments that had previously been forecast to see thunderstorms - Manche, Mayenne, Sarthe, Orne and Calvados. The current heatwave alert is expected to stay in place until at least midday Thursday July 24.

Thursday is forecast to be the hottest day, with temperatures across much of the country reaching above 40°C. So far, most the country has been affected, except for Brittany and most of the south-east.

Météo France said: “[Thursday] will be the hottest day, and the average temperatures across France on this day could be just as high as those seen during the [record-setting] heatwave of 2003.”

The intense heat, which remains relatively high even at nighttime, can make sleeping difficult. Sleep expert Maxime Elbaz, neuroscientist and technical director at the sleep centre at the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris, has offered advice on how to get some rest during the peak.

He said: “Heat is the enemy of sleep. Humans need [their body temperature] to drop by at least one degree for good sleep, and our brain’s thermostat is disrupted by the heatwave. You need to find somewhere colder to lower this temperature.”

Sleep advice

  • If you are lucky enough to have air conditioning, set it to 18C to ensure a cold space (but try to turn any fans and air conditioners away from directly pointing at you in bed)
  • Do not eat too much high-calorie, heavy food before you sleep, as this raises body temperature
  • Try to eat cool, light food, such as cold soups (e.g. gazpacho) at dinner
  • Take a medium-warm shower before bed for 15 minutes
  • Avoid taking a cold shower, especially for a short time. The body reacts by trying to raise body temperature even more
  • Try to ensure that the bedroom has a breeze or air currents to the outside
  • Feel free to take a nap during the day if you can, and you need to catch up on sleep
  • Try to nap in a cool, dark place in the afternoon
  • Avoid looking at screens and devices in the hours before sleep (even when there is not a heatwave) as this will block sleep hormones and make it harder for you to nod off or get good quality sleep

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