If you don’t have AC or can’t sleep with it on, you need to know these tips on how to stay cool at night.
One of the most important factors for getting a good night’s rest is the temperature of your sleep environment. Studies have shown that the optimal conditions for sleep are a slightly cool room and a lower core temperature. But during hot summer months or a heatwave, achieving these conditions can sometimes prove to be elusive.
At night, a higher than normal body temperature puts the body clock out of sync. During summer this is a common cause of insomnia and discomfort. The simple solution is to crank up the air conditioner (AC) unit. But apart from being expensive and environmental unfriendly, sleeping with the AC on can cause a range of complaints including respiratory problems, dry skin and allergic reactions.
So if you’re looking for some AC-free ways to avoid hot, sweaty sleepless nights, here are 7 tips for staying cool that you might not have considered.
1) Get the right pillow
The head is the hottest part of the body so you want to keep it as cool as possible. Conventional pillows surround your head, trapping in the heat. A smaller, firmer pillow, although less comfy will allow more air circulation.
Both foam and Buckwheat pillows are ideal for warmer months, providing good air circulation and excellent neck support. This cervical pillow is made of a non-toxic polyurethane foam with an open cell structure, allowing for optimum air circulation, and includes 4 unique “ear holes” to eliminate heat buildup while side sleeping and take pressure off your ears.
If you’re looking for a modern solution, you could try the Chillow. This is a blue pad that sits on top or inside of your existing pillow. It’s filled with a hi-tech cooling material which means it doesn’t need power or refrigeration. We haven’t tried the Chillow yet, but it seems to be fairly well reviewed over at Amazon.
As the saying goes, “there’s no school like the old school”. When it comes to air conditioning, there are good reasons to embrace this concept. Most AC units are expensive, inefficient and end up rotting on a landfill site.
So instead of adding to the global pollution in the world, how about building your own super lo-tech air conditioner with these three simple household items – an electric fan, a large mixing bowl and some ice cubes.
Simplicity is the key. Place the ice cubes in the bowl, in the path of the airflow coming from the fan. The warm air causes the ice to melt, dispersing a cool breeze around the room. If you don’t have any ice, you can use other frozen or chilled items.
Whilst obviously not a serious alternative to commercial AC systems, as a one-off solution, it’s a super cheap and relatively environmentally friendly way to tame your room temperature.
3) Sleep like a pharaoh
The so-called Egyptian method requires either a bedsheet or a towel large enough to cover your body. Soak the sheet in water, then put it in the washing machine on spin cycle -or just wring it out to stop any dripping.
When you go to sleep, cover yourself with the damp cooling sheets. This will keep you cool via the magic of latent heat, the same process that sweating uses to cool your body down. You’ll need some air circulation in the bedroom for this to work – an open window is fine.
Variations on this theme include wearing damp clothes to bed and hanging a wet sheet in front of an open window.
4) Shades down
When Northern Europeans visit hot Mediterannean countries they’re often surprised to discover that most people keep their windows shuttered all day long during the hot months. But there’s a reason for this love of the dark.
The sun’s rays are far more powerful in the summer and keeping the blinds down stops the rooms heating up during the day. So next time a heatwave is headed your way, be wary of the temptation to let the light flood into every room. You may pay the price when it comes to go to bedtime.
5) Go raw
During a hot spell, you probably don’t feel like eating big hot meals all the time. But if you’re tempted to tuck into a double cheeseburger and fries you should think twice. The larger the meal, the more metabolic heat you generate as your body breaks down the food.
This is especially the case if you eat a high protein meal. So instead of tucking into a meat feast when it’s hot, try switching to salads, fruits and vegetables that the body can metabolise with less effort. If you cook a lot at home, switching to more raw foods will also mean less cooking, which means less heat being generated inside the house.
6) Location, location, location
If there’s no way to reduce the fug of your hot, humid bedroom, you may be forced to choose another spot to rest your weary head. You could try sleeping in a hammock. Being suspended in mid-air means that air flows all around your body, unlike a mattress which absorbs and reflects your body heat.
If that doesn’t float your boat, try going down…. Lower storeys are generally cooler than upper ones. If your house is on a single level, try pitching up on the floor – this is especially effective if your house has stone tiles. Finally, if all else fails, there’s always outdoors.
If the temperature allows, a balcony, terrace or even the garden may offer some respite from a stifling interior. Just don’t forget your mosquito net!
7) Plant a tree
You may have to wait several years to see the benefits of this approach. But planting a tree on the south side of your home could be the ultimate eco-friendly way to help cool your house in the summer.
Deciduous trees provide plenty of shade during the hot months, resulting in a cooler home throughout day and night. In the winter as they shed their leaves, the trees allow warming light through.
As well as the environmental and aesthetic benefits, planting trees could also be a lucrative investment. A small tree will not only pay for itself in energy savings, it will most likely also increase your property value.
8) Go hi-tech
If you’re suffering hot sleepless nights and you happen to be a bit of a geek, you’re in luck. In recent years, a slew of sleep gadgets have entered the market, many of them specifically designed to heat and cool your bedroom.
Jeff is the founder and editor-in-chief at Sleep Junkies . A passionate sleep advocate, he started the site in 2012, reaching millions of readers across the globe. Jeff also runs the product curation platform SleepGadgets.io . He is often asked to speak at about current trends in consumer sleep technology at various events.