There are plenty of reasons to love summer—sunshine, longer days and warmer temperatures. But for many people, the sleepless nights that go along with warmer temperatures make it difficult to enjoy the sunny season.
If you don’t have air conditioning or your air conditioner just isn’t cutting it, there are a few simple, inexpensive ways to keep cool.
Regular, high-quality sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. On average, adults should aim for 7–9 hours of sleep each night. People who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of developing depression, diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.
Sleep quality optimization is a well-studied topic. Consistent, high-quality sleep can seem like an unattainable goal, especially if you struggle with a condition that makes it difficult to sleep, likefibromyalgia orback pain. Some sleep-affecting factors, though, are within your control. Body temperature is one of those factors.
Body temperature plays a key role in sleep quality. Research shows that theoptimal bedroom temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. As bedtime approaches, your body prepares for a restful night’s sleep by gradually reducing your body temperature. In response to the drop in temperature, your body sends a signal that tells your brain it’s time to sleep.
This signal triggers a drop in your metabolism and is paralleled by a release of melatonin, a hormone that makes you drowsy. If you’re overheated and your body temperature doesn’t drop, then these processes will fail to activate, and you’ll have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. You’re likely to wake up feeling groggy and unrested.
It’s natural to feel helpless when you’re lying awake, staring at the ceiling, and watching the hours pass on the clock. But there are things you can do to stay cool and get a better night’s sleep when those hot summer temperatures are working against you.
There are specialized blood vessels in the head, hands and feet that help with temperature regulation. Try laying a cool, damp cloth on your forehead, wearing chilled socks or holding onto a cold compress. Don’t apply ice directly your skin as it can damage the delicate tissue on your skin’s surface.
If you’re going to use an ice block or an ice pack, wrap it in a cloth or towel. Don’t hold it in one spot for more than 20 minutes, and don’t fall asleep with it on your skin.
Usually, the heat generated by light bulbs and electronics is insignificant, but if you’re trying to sleep in a room that’s already too warm, everything counts. Stereos, laptops, and bedside lamps all generate small amounts of heat.
Switch-off or unplug all unnecessary electronics before bed. If possible, keep them unplugged all day, whenever they’re not in use, to prevent heat from building up through the day. Keep the alarm clock plugged in, though.
Ancient Egyptians developed a clever technique to beat the heat. To try the “Egyptian Method,” soak your sheet in cool water and wring it until it’s damp but not wet. You can also run your sheet through a cold-water quick wash and spin cycle.
Use the damp sheet as the top sheet and use a dry bottom sheet. The water in the damp sheet will evaporate throughout the night and keep you cool, and it should be dry by morning.
Take a quick shower or bath before bed and leave your skin damp. The evaporation has a chilling effect that’s similar to sweating. It also lets your body know it’s time to sleep. The water shouldn’t be too cold—a cold shower can make you more alert, so save that for the morning and opt for a warm or cool shower before bed.
Don’t let the steam from the bathroom flow into your bedroom, as the humidity can make the heat feel worse. If showering or bathing isn’t an option, rinse your face, wrists or feet with cool water. Or combine equal parts water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle to make a cooling body spritz.
When you don’t have air conditioning, fake it. If you have more than one window in your bedroom, open them. Opening windows will pull the cooler outside air through your room. If you only have one window, consider sleeping with your bedroom door open and opening a window in another part of the house.
If you have a fan, position it near the window. Place a large, shallow container of ice between you and the fan for a cooling boost. Remember, condensation may form on the container as the cold air from the ice meets the warm air in the room. Protect water-sensitive surfaces with plastic and a towel.
Early to mid-afternoon is usually the hottest part of the day. Anytime the sun is shining through the windows, heat is building up inside the house. Keep your blinds closed during the day to prevent the buildup of heat. If you don’t want to keep all of the blinds closed, just close the ones in the bedroom and shut the bedroom door.
Blackout curtains or blinds are especially effective at keeping the heat out. Don’t open any windows in the daytime, as it’s likely hotter outside than it is inside, and you’ll want to keep the hotter air out.
Put your bed sheets and pillowcases in a plastic bag and place them in the freezer for a few hours before you go to sleep. They’ll warm up a little bit while you’re making the bed, and you’ll have a comfortable, cool bed that may help you fall asleep easier. If you don’t have space for your sheets in the freezer, only freeze your pillowcases.
Hydration plays a role in virtually every process happening in your body, and temperature regulation is no exception. A cool, refreshing glass of water doesn’t just cool your down in the moment. A lack of hydration increases the body’s heat storage and decreases heat tolerance.
Aim for eight glasses of water daily—more if you’re sweating a lot. Stay hydrated throughout the day but don’t drink a lot of water in the 90 minutes before bed. You’ll probably wake up for a middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom, and it can be difficult to fall back to sleep.
Cotton is a natural, breathable fabric. The pattern of cotton fiber is loose-knit and loopy, allowing air to circulate in and out. Opt for cotton bedsheets and loose-fitting cotton pajamas. Some synthetic fabrics are dense and water repellent, so they keep your body heat in and trap sweat on your skin.
If cold packs and frozen sheets aren’t cutting it, consider investing in a cooling pad or pillow. Cooling pads use specially designed cool-to-touch fabrics and weave designs to keep you cool, even on the hottest nights. They usually have a removable, washable cover, so when you invest in a cooling pad or pillow, you’re making a long term investment for your health.
Beat the heat this summer with thermal-regulating sleep products from Relax The Back. Sleep is an essential part of quality of life, and you can achieve a comfortable, deep sleep with the right sheets, pillows and mattresses.
Relax The Back offers a range of options to help you sleep cool. We recommend:
To explore more temperature-control products,shop our sleep collection online. Or visit yourlocal Relax The Back store. Our product consultants can help you find the right solutions to increase your wellness and sleep quality. Stay cool this summer with these hot tips and sleep support products from Relax The Back.