How to Sleep in the Heat: Tips & Tricks for All Sleepers

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Many people struggle to get quality sleep during the summer months. As the temperatures outside rise, so do temperatures inside, and that makes sleeping at night very uncomfortable. You end up tossing and turning in your bed, and, no matter what you try, you just can’t fall asleep. Here, we’re taking a look at how you can make your surroundings more comfortable and heat-ready. Plus, we’ll explore some DIY tips that can help you cool down and sleep better in the heat. 

The Science Behind Sleeping in Heat

Having sleeping troubles? Blame melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. Typically, it’s produced between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. — and it helps drop your core body temperature. However, if your body temperature is too high, the melatonin can’t do it’s job properly — your body can’t produce it — and, as a result, your temperature can’t drop to the level that would allow for a cozy night’s sleep. Instead, you become hot and irritable.

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So, that’s what’s happening on the inside, but what’s happening externally? On the outside, heat perception can also be impacted by high humidity in a room. This affects everything — the time it takes you to fall asleep, the time it takes you to fall into a deep sleep, and the number of times you wake up during your sleep. All of it can disrupt your sleep patterns and make it impossible to reach a sufficient amount (and solid quality) of sleep during hot weather.

How to Set Up a Cool Sleeping Space

In order to have the best possible sleep, your bedroom temperature should sit around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If it reaches over 77 degrees, your sleeping troubles may begin. It’s important to note that even though temperatures may drop during summer nights, the bedroom may still produce uncomfortable heat that will make it difficult to sleep properly.

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The best way to ensure your sleeping space is cool is to close the doors, windows, and curtains of your bedroom in the morning in order to keep the sunlight out. You should then open them at night to increase the airflow. In the time in between, use a fan or a dehumidifier — or another DIY method (see next section) — to cool down. 

Remember: Cooling fans don’t blow cold air. Instead, the air that’s already in the room is circulated and pushed down. However, in extreme heat, cooling fans do create a cooling effect since the light breeze helps sweat evaporate from your skin. If air conditioning is not an option for you, a fan can provide you with a comfortable night’s sleep when used in combination with other DIY tips and tricks.

Tips & Tricks on How to Sleep in the Heat

In the evening, make sure you open all your windows before going to bed. You can also sleep closer to the ground — or put a mattress directly on the floor. After all, heat rises. For many, picking the right pajamas — shorts and tank tops — can be helpful, since less layers and more breathable fabrics minimize sweating. 

Another popular DIY method? Cool yourself down during hot months by sleeping with an ice pack, wet towel, or some well-placed ice cubes. Those who really want to cool down might even try freezing their pillows or sleeping with a frozen water bottle. 

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Additionally, you should employ practices that help you wind down — no matter the temperature. For example, avoid caffeine and screens later in the day. While being hot will make you more irritable, it’s important to quiet down your mind in order to be able to fall asleep. 

Need some other DIY tips? Try sleeping in the heat with ease by: 

  • Putting cold water in a spray bottle and spray yourself regularly
  • Sleeping with ice packs
  • Closing the curtains during the day to keep the sun out
  • Drinking a lot of iced water
  • Putting your wrists in cold water to cool down your body temperature
  • Changing your bedding to something lighter and more breathable 
  • Putting a damp towel in the freezer and using it as a blanket

Now, let’s delve into a few of the most effective strategies and why they work — or don’t. 

Should You Take a Cold Shower to Cool Off?

This may seem like an obvious choice, but you may want to think twice before stepping into the shower. Although you may feel cooler once the cold water hits your skin, it causes less blood flow to the skin, which means it keeps more heat inside it. This increases your core temperature, which, of course, will make your body warmer. The gist? It may be a short-term solution, but you’ll feel hot a couple of minutes later.

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So, what should you do instead during those hot summer months? Try a lukewarm shower instead. This will help raise your core body temperature, eventually bringing it to a level that will make it comfortable for you to sleep. Lukewarm showers send blood to the skin, which opens one’s pores and causes one to sweat. This sweat then evaporates, allowing one to cool down. Similarly, try drinking hot beverages on a warm day. By doing so, you’ll raise your core temperature, sweat more, and, in the end, cool down. 

Choosing Correct Bedding Can Make All the Difference

If you’re sleeping in polyester, satin, or silk sheets, you should change your bedding to cotton for a cooler night’s sleep. The material is far more breathable and promotes ventilation. While this doesn’t mean you’ll feel like you’re sleeping with an air conditioner, it will ensure your body temperature doesn’t dramatically rise in the middle of the night.

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You can also purchase cooling sheets that are designed with specific technology to help you stay cool. One of the most popular technologies is the Outlast technology, which allows sheets to balance your temperature and reduce overheating. This, in return, means that you’ll sweat less. 

Resource Links: 

  • “The hypothermic effect of melatonin on core body temperature: is more better?” via Wiley, National Library of Medicine
  • “How to cool down a room with fans if you don’t have AC” via Insider
  • “Bedding” via Outlast