It's hard to get a good night's rest when it's too hot to sleep - and since we've already know this summer will be hotter than the last, it's time to figure out our nighttime cool-down strategies.
Earlier this year, we put together a list of tips and tricks to help you make your bed as warm and snuggly as possible. Now that it's summer, here are our tips for cooling your bed - and yourself - down before it's time to turn out the lights.
If you have air conditioning:
- If you aren't already running your air conditioning, turn it on a few hours before bedtime. Some of us run our AC all day (or, at least, keep it running whenever we're at home) and that's great! However, if you are the type of person who prefers to sweat it out, do your sleep a favour by turning your AC on a few hours before bed. It will cool your home and your body, preparing you for a better bedtime.
- Instead of turning your AC up a few degrees before going to bed, turn it down. According to the National Sleep Foundation, we sleep best when we're in a 18-degree room - so if you're keeping your AC in the low/mid 20s, try turning it down before bed and see if your sleep improves. Yes, your electric budget might go up, but the extra sleep will probably be worth it.
- If your air conditioner has "sleep mode," use it. In sleep mode, you can set your AC at a sleep-inducing cool temperature before bed, and the AC will slowly raise the maximum allowable temperature overnight (or in some cases turn itself off after a few hours). You'll be asleep, so you won't even notice!
If you don't have air conditioning:
- Your home will stay cooler at night if you keep it as cool as possible during the day. During the mornings and evenings, open windows to let air flow through your home. During the afternoons (or before you leave for work, if you work a 9-5), close the windows and pull down the blinds to keep the cool air in and the hot summer sun out.
- Create a makeshift swamp cooler by spraying a sheet with cold water and hanging it in front of an open window. Make sure you've picked a window that has a breeze coming through it!
- Create another makeshift swamp cooler by putting a bowl of ice in front of a box fan or oscillating fan.
- If you can't cool your home down, cool your body down instead. A cold shower right before bed can help lower your body temperature just enough for you to fall asleep.
- If all else fails, wet a bandana or washcloth in very cold water, wring it out so it doesn't drip all over your pillows, fold it into a rectangle, and drape it over your neck. Having something cool that close to your major blood vessels will help cool your whole body. (Don't have a bandana? I've made do with a cold, damp sock.)
Sheets, covers, and pajamas:
- We're assuming you've put your flannel sheets in the closet, but if you're still sleeping on silk/satin/T-shirt material, it's time to swap those sheets out for 100% cotton. Cotton sheets absorb sweat without absorbing body heat — the perfect combination.
- You'll also want to wash your sheets regularly (by which we mean every week, if not every few days). They will feel cooler against your skin and they will smell better!
- If you sleep under a duvet, you'll want to get a heavier-weight duvet for winter and a lighter-weight duvet for summer. If that's out of your price range, you can always buy heavier and lighter duvet covers, and swap them with the seasons.
- You might already know this tip, but you can also skip the duvet/quilt/blankets entirely and sleep under a top sheet. (Some people can sleep without anything covering their bodies, but most of us need some kind of cover when we go to bed, first because it "feels like bedtime" and second because our core body temperature drops as we fall asleep, and the cover prevents the temperature drop from waking us up.)
- In terms of pajamas, you want something light, loose, and preferably cotton. Or... you could always sleep naked!
- Memory foam mattresses often "run hot," which is great in the winter but can prevent quality sleep in the summer. Try buying a mattress cover or mattress topper specially designed to keep your mattress cool.
- A room that is too humid can be just as stifling as a room that is too warm. It might be time to invest in a dehumidifier.
- If you have a ceiling fan, make sure you've switched it to its "summer" setting. (Yes, many ceiling fans have two settings, and they're designed to help keep your home either warm or cool depending on the season!) Don't know whether your fan is set to "summer?" Check the blades - in summer, they should move counter-clockwise.
- Switching from a "curled up" sleeping position to a "starfish" sleeping position can help cool your body down, in part because starfishing allows airflow to the armpits and groin (both of which are notoriously warm, sweaty places).
- Don't forget your hydration! One of the best ways to cool down is to drink a glass of cool, refreshing water - and even though you may have to wake up in the middle of the night to use the toilet, it's way better than waking up headachy and dehydrated.
What other tips do you have for keeping your bed cool during the hottest days of summer?