“It’s too hot to sleep!”
How many times have you said that during the summer months when the temperature soars and you just can’t seem to get comfortable in bed? If you have air conditioning, it certainly helps, but if you don’t, there are some things you can do to keep cool and sleep more comfortably.
The ideal temperature for sleep is about 19 °C, or 67 °F. At this temperature, your body’s temperature decreases more quickly, making it easier to fall asleep. When your body temperature is too high, it’s more difficult to drift off, and tossing and turning just makes you feel more sweaty and uncomfortable.
So what can you do to keep cool when it’s warm outside and you don’t have air conditioning? There’s no need to swelter and sweat in a hot and sticky room when you follow these easy tricks.
Drinking plenty of water is good for you anyway, especially when it’s warm outside, but upping your water intake throughout the day can help you sleep better. Dehydration disrupts sleep, and if you are sweaty and tossing and turning, you’re only going to get more dehydrated. Before bed, chug a glass of cool or cold water (only 8 ounces unless you want to wake up and use the bathroom) to help lower your core temperature and stay hydrated.
Stick with Cotton
You might love the luxurious feel of your satin sheets and pajamas, but when it’s hot, fabrics like satin, silk, and polyester can make you feel like you’re in a sauna. Instead, choose cotton sheets for your bed, as they allow plenty of airflow and stay cool better than other fabrics. You can even make your sheets cooler by putting them in the freezer for an hour or so before bed. Wear pajamas made from cotton or moisture-wicking fabric to avoid getting too sweaty, or better yet, wear nothing at all. If it’s especially hot in your bedroom for longer than a few days, consider investing in sheets and pillows with cooling technology built-in.
Follow the “Egyptian Method”
As you might suspect, the ancient Egyptians knew a thing or two about staying cool. One of their tricks for staying cool in bed was to cover themselves with a cool, damp sheet. Try dampening a sheet or towel with cold water (just damp — you don’t want it soaking wet) and lying underneath it with a fan or breeze blowing on you to cool down. Put towels under your sheets so you don’t get the mattress wet.
Using fans in your bedroom won’t lower the temperature, but the air circulation can help you feel cooler. The airflow created by a fan can help the sweat on your skin evaporate faster so you don’t feel quite as sticky and uncomfortable. You might even try placing a roasting pan or bowl of ice in front of your fan for an old-fashioned “air conditioner.” When the fan blows over the cold evaporation from the ice, it creates a cool mist that can lower the temperature a smidge and help you stay cool.
Use Ice Packs
Ice packs do more than help you recover from injuries — they can help you beat the heat as well. Fill the hot water bottle you use for toasty toes in the winter with cool water and freeze it for a handy ice pack. Keep it down by your feet; your feet are sensitive to temperature, and keeping them cool can help keep your whole body cool. Another option is to freeze wet washcloths to use as cold compresses on your pressure points (neck, wrists, ankles, feet, etc.) which can bring your temperature down quickly.
Plan for Cool Sleep
Before bed, take a shower or bath, and leave your hair wet. Some people prefer a cool or lukewarm shower to lower their temperature, while others claim that a hot shower helps them feel less hot. It’s really a matter of personal preference; either way, a shower rinses off sweat and helps you feel more comfortable as you climb into bed.
Finally, think about the temperature of your bedroom before it’s time for bed. Keeping the window shades or blinds drawn, especially during the hottest part of the day, can help reduce the temperature in your bedroom. Try opening windows to create a cross breeze, or use fans to increase airflow around the room. Don’t forget to turn off the lights, which create heat, and if you are too hot sleeping on an upper floor, camp out on the couch or in a room on a lower floor for the night. Heat rises, and your upstairs bedrooms will be much warmer than downstairs.
Hot summer nights don’t have to mean disrupted or restless sleep. With a few cooling tricks, you can fall asleep quickly and stay asleep, even if you don’t have an air conditioner.