When it comes to paloma cocktails, first dates, and summer temps, the hotter the better, we say. We’re smack in the middle of the warmest months of the year, and most of the US has been experiencing a crazy heat wave the past few weeks. We already know how to work out safely when it’s hot, but honestly, we’re having trouble simply existing in this heat! So recently, after making all the watermelon dessert recipes, we turned to Dr. Mike Varshavski, known as Dr. Mike, New York City-based board-certified family medicine doctor of social media fame, to get the scoop on how much water we should be drinking, why cotton pajamas rule, and why we have to reapply even waterproof sunscreen.

Woman drinking water in the summer

1. Surprise! Drinking water is important. Once you’re thirsty, you’re already mildly dehydrated, Varshavski warns. “If you’re looking for a formula for how much you should be drinking every day, do the math by calculating two-thirds of your body weight and converting it into ounces,” he advises. Remember, dehydration can look and feel like many different things. “Most commonly, it results in fatigue, aching joints, headaches, dark-colored urine, and dry mouth,” he says. If you start to feel any of these symptoms, find a cool spot and knock back some water STAT.

2. The hotter the temp, the sleepier you get. Varshavski explains that because of the increased energy our bodies expend to stay cool in the heat, it makes us more tired than normal, even when we’re not exercising. He adds that “your body temperature naturally drops as you start to fall asleep. So if you go from being really hot (anywhere outside) to a cooler environment (say, your air-conditioned office), this can make you feel sleepy.” While it’s probably frowned upon to take a nap in the middle of your workday, we do suggest giving yourself time to recharge in the afternoons while you’re on vacation and on the weekends.

3. Ditch the poly-blend PJs! While we’re on the subject of sleeping, Varshavski says, “I actually just partnered with Cotton Incorporated to break down exactly why and how to get a better night’s sleep.” He suggests that “if you’re tossing and turning on a hot summer night, swap out synthetic fibers for cotton sheets and pajamas for better sleep” to help along your body’s natural cooling process as you fall asleep. Plus, those breathable fibers mean you won’t wake up in a pool of sweat every morning.

4. Cotton helps in the sun too. Remember, sunblock should be reapplied every two hours, and relying on waterproof sunscreen isn’t realistic. “All sunscreen needs to be reapplied often for true sun protection,” Varshavski advises. He does say that while “the higher the SPF number, the better, the real way to protect your skin is to cover it up.” Each day, the strongest UV hours are between 10am and 4pm, and Varshavski suggests that you grab “a cotton T-shirt or cover-up, wear a hat, or hang out under an umbrella to minimize skin exposure to the sun and decrease sun damage.” He also points out that one study found that clothing dyed with dark, natural dyes offered more UV protection than lighter-colored fabric, so break out your navy blue tunics!

5. Don’t forget to eat even if you’re not hungry. “Our bodies have many jobs. In the summer, [they’re] working full-time to keep us hydrated while sweating and to keep us cool when in the heat. It’s not farfetched for our appetite to come second — but this doesn’t mean you should let it,” Varshavski says. He suggests trying to keep to a normal eating routine, even when you don’t feel hungry. However, he also says if you’re not hungry, that can be fine too. “Don’t force a large meal upon yourself; instead, break it into small meals or frequent healthy snacks throughout the busy summer days,” he says. Plus, there are so many nutrient-rich (and hydrating!) fresh fruits and veggies in season, so it’s the perfect time to live on Caprese salad.

6. Cool it with the AC. Sure, it feels amazing to let yourself cool down in front of a blasting air conditioner, but there’s a downside. “I wish people would avoid having air conditioners blow directly onto their bodies,” Varshavski says. “Oftentimes this leads to overcooling of muscles (less blood flow), which can lead to a stiff neck or back.” Which is exactly what you don’t want right before you head out to spend the summer night dancing!

Do you have any tried-and-true methods for staying cool and healthy during the summer? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know how you do it!

(Photo via Getty)