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Austrian heatwave: Six tips to get a better night’s sleep

Summers are getting hotter in Austria, with a heatwave set to hit the country and bring temperatures to a scorching 40C. Here's how not to let it affect your sleep.

Austrian heatwave: Six tips to get a better night's sleep
A man jumps into the "Old Danube" river in Vienna, Austria (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Austria is set to be hit by a heatwave next week, with temperatures likely to melt records.

Though the forecast may change, temperatures should be above 35C degrees by the middle of next week, even reaching closer to 40C in some areas.

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

To keep the warmth in, many homes were made with insulation in mind. Some attic apartments, which are very common in Austria, can become almost a greenhouse, making it next to impossible to sleep.

Before the worst of the heat arrives, there is still time to prepare yourself and your home for an as decent as possible night of sleep despite obscene temperatures.

READ ALSO: Heatwave in Austria: What to do as temperatures hit 40C

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 also makes a huge difference.

As light suppresses our body’s own production of melatonin, the hormone that signals that it is time to sleep, the longer days irritate our internal clock, sleep expert Brigitte Holzinger told Der Standard.

Just as a sunlight lamp can help you stay awake in the winter months, you can also help your body by simply closing the blinds and turning off the lights early. Sunset in Austria is currently around 9pm, so darkening your home a bit earlier than that certainly helps your body wind down for sleep.

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

READ ALSO: Heatwave: Nine of the coolest places in Austria

Similarly, if you practice sports just before going to bed, you might want to swap the routine for an early morning workout.

This is because the hormones we produce while exercising can hurt our sleep schedule. So aim to be done with the gym at least four hours before you go to sleep.

Be mindful of your alcohol consumption

Summer is also a great time to meet up with friends outside, drink some Spritzer or a beer by the Donau and enjoy yourself.

And we should definitely keep doing that, but if you are having trouble sleeping, it might be a good idea to consume less alcohol, as it can significantly worsen the quality of your sleep.

In a similar way, it’s better to eat lighter and more often, especially before sleep. Eating a fresh salad before going to bed also means you don’t need to warm up any food, which adds unnecessary heat to your home.

Vienna bar alcohol drink

Summer is a perfect time to enjoy Vienna’s outdoor areas (Photo by Wiktor Karkocha on Unsplash)

Try to keep yourself and your bedroom cool

The ideal temperature for sleeping is between 18C and 20C, which may seem next to impossible when the mercury is approaching 40C.

However, there are many ways to keep your home cooler during a heatwave. One of the main things you can do is invest in external blinds instead of curtains. In Austria, you might need the permission of a landlord to drill outside a building facade.

READ ALSO: How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

Certain areas of Austria even have funding programs for people who want to install external roller shutters. For example, tenants and owners in Vienna can apply for funding of up to 50 percent of “reasonable costs” to a maximum of € 1,500 per housing unit. You can find out more about the Vienna funding program here.

Use water to your advantage

Besides drinking loads of water (which you should be doing, especially during a heatwave), evaporation also cools down the environment. So, you can use a damp cloth to cool your neck if the night is too hot, for example.

Additionally, a wet towel positioned in front of a fan can help during those sweltering nights. Some fans even have compartments where you can store ice or iced water and they will either spray the chilled water occasionally or use it to cool the air a bit.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Austria’s world-class drinking water

Some people swear by the habit of bringing a bucket of cold or iced water and just leaving it near your bed to feel the chill even while you are asleep.

You can also shower before going to bed, but be aware that a lukewarm shower is better than a super cold one (which will awaken all your senses and make falling asleep harder).

None of it, of course, compares to an actual air conditioning unit, but they can help. A split AC unit (those with indoor and outdoor compartments) consumes less energy and is overall more practical, but since it involves drilling a building facade, its installation requires the permission of the property owner.

Choose natural fabrics

When it comes to the clothes you wear at night and especially your bedsheets, keeping it natural with cotton, linen, and silk, for example, is much better to stay cool during a heatwave.

Be smart about ventilation and shading

Create the habit beforehand of ventilating during the cooler nights and closing your windows and blinds during the hot days. The idea is to trap the (even if slightly) colder night air and keep the stuffy heat of the day outside.

Even if nights are still warm and far from the ideal temperatures, it will be easier to cool down and fall asleep in the evening with temperatures ranging from 20C to 25C, as they might get on Austrian nights during the heatwave than with the day heat of 35C.

Don’t forget: Austria has a “heat” hotline people can call for personal advice on how to best protect themselves from the heat under the free hotline 050 555 555. In addition, if you or someone you know shows any signs of heat stroke or other health problems, call the country’s health number 1450.

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How much do you need to earn for a good life in Austria?

Austria is known as a country with a high standard of living, but it also comes with a high cost of living. Here’s an overview of what you can expect to earn in Austria.

How much do you need to earn for a good life in Austria?

As with most things in Austria, the question of ‘what is a good salary?’ is difficult to answer as the cost of living (and wages) can vary between states and cities.

For example, the east of Austria is typically much cheaper than the west for housing (with the exception of Vienna). And those living in cities often have easier – and cheaper – access to public transport when compared with people living in rural areas. 

READ ALSO: ‘Bad-tempered locals’: Vienna ranked the world’s ‘unfriendliest city’

Childcare is also something to consider with huge differences between Vienna, where there is access to heavily subsidised services, and places like Tyrol where childcare costs more.

To delve a bit deeper, we looked at the data to find out the average salary in Austria and how it differs between professions and locations.

What is the average salary in Austria?

In 2021, the average gross annual salary in Austria was €44,395, according to the latest data from Statistics Austria

However, in the latest survey by online job platform Step Stone, the average gross annual salary in Austria is €49,609.

The Step Stone survey then broke it down further by industry with those working in pharma earning the most at €60,504. This was followed by energy at €60,345, medical technology at €59,106 and banking at €58,711.

The industry with the lowest average annual salary is hotels/gastronomy at €37,546, followed by agriculture at €39,779 and tourism at €43,965.

FOR MEMBERS: REVEALED: The best and worst districts to live in Vienna (as voted for by you)

Occupation also plays a part with people working in management earning the most – on average €66,768. Consulting came second at €53,721.

And like many other European countries, the gender pay gap in Austria prevails. The average annual salary for a man is €52,633 and for a woman it is €44,330.

Furthermore, the top earning city in Austria is Bregenz in Vorarlberg with an average annual salary of €54,620. When comparing the west of Austria with the east, the median salary in Vorarlberg is €46,450, whereas in Burgenland it is just €39,100.

What is the average cost of living in Austria?

Many international residents will find everyday living costs in Austria to be expensive, especially for those that come from countries with a much lower cost of living.

Inflation has also been rising steadily in Austria throughout 2022, leading to some steep rises in prices for groceries, housing costs and energy.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: 10 ways to save money on your groceries in Austria

However, the average cost of living varies across the country, depending on the location. For example, Vienna and Innsbruck in Tyrol are two of Austria’s most expensive cities, but more affordable places to live are Graz in Styria and Klagenfurt in Carinthia.

In Vienna, the average price for a one bedroom apartment in the city centre is €915, going up to €2,000 for a three bedroom apartment, according to Expat Arrivals.

Whereas in Graz, the average cost of a one bedroom city centre apartment is around €609, and a three bedroom apartment is €1,170.