If you’re lucky enough to live in a home with air conditioning, you might not have noticed, but heat waves around the world have made sleep uneasy for millions of people this summer.As temperatures have risen, many people have found themselves tossing and turning at night in a hot bed, unable to cool down and get to sleep.While opening windows or turning on fans can sometimes help, these aren’t always an option and often aren’t sufficient to cool you down enough to fall asleep.
There’s a reason it’s difficult to fall asleep when you’re too hot. The human body’s circadian rhythm uses your body temperature as one method of detecting when to cue the body to fall asleep; if your body’s core temperature is too high or your rate of body heat loss is too low, you’ll have a harder time falling asleep naturally.
Luckily, there are a few hacks to make this process easier and help you cool down enough to get to sleep on those hot summer nights - or any night.
One of the easiest ways to lower your core temperature is to take a warm or hot bath. While it might seem counterintuitive that soaking in hot water would make you cooler, the cooling effect which happens when you get out of the bath will cause your body’s core temperature to fall. Studies have found that a hot or warm bath 1 to 2 hours before bed can help trigger your body’s natural sleep cycle in response to your dropping post-bath body temperature. If you’re not much of a night bather, a 2013 study found that even just a warm footbath can have the same effect.
Not all bedding is created equally. If your bed is too warm in the summer, try changing up your sheets for a lighter, more breathable fabric. Satin, silk, and polyester sheets are often too warm for summer because these materials are not as porous, meaning less air can flow through them. For a cooler, more ventilated bed, try light-colored bed linens made from lightweight cottons, microfibers, or even bamboo. These types of fabrics will also wick away moisture in case you happen to sweat during those hot summer nights. The same goes for what you wear to sleep: choose sleepwear made from these breathable, wicking materials to avoid overheating.
Do you reverse your ceiling fans twice a year? Many people are unaware that most ceiling fans can spin in two separate directions which can be toggled by a switch on the base. In summer, your ceiling fans should blow in a counter-clockwise direction as you look up at it in order to push air down into the room. If you use box fans or other air movers in your room, point them out a window or door to draw hot air out of the room instead of just circulating it around.
When you buy a new mattress, you’re probably mostly concerned with comfort. How does the mattress feel?
Fair enough. We all want to sink into the bed just the right amount come night time. However, something you probably don’t consider is that some mattresses sleep hotter than others. Memory foam mattresses, in particular, have a reputation for sleeping hot. However, it really comes down to the materials that comprise the mattress.
For example, some memory foam mattresses use a gel infusion to make them sleep cooler. Others use copper to conduct body heat and distribute it through the mattress. That said, it’s important that you choose the right mattress to keep you cool. For more help, you can check out this guide for the best cooling mattresses here.
The ancient Egyptians slept beneath linens dampened in water to stay cool during those blistering north African summers. While sleeping in a wet bed might not be your thing (or anyone’s), luckily there are many more modern, drier alternatives to actively cool down a bed. Under bed fans like the BedJet provide a continuous flow of air between your sheets and you, keeping you cool year-round without having to air condition the whole house. The BedJet works with any bed, is remote controlled, and was designed by a former NASA engineer who built spacesuits.
If you can’t sleep with the noise of a fan directly under your bed, you might want to give a cooling mattress pad a shot. Mattress toppers like the ChiliPad have built-in tubes or channels which circulate water throughout the night to actively cool the surface temperature of your mattress. There are even ChiliPads with two separate zones in case you and your sleeping partner prefer different temperatures at night. As a bonus, the same ChiliPad can even be used to keep you warm in the winter.
6. Find What Works for You
Sleeping is one of the most private and personal acts we do each day, and everyone sleeps a little differently. If you’re looking for hacks to help you cool down and get to sleep, try out some of the techniques above to find the ones which work best for you. Cooling down enough to fall asleep at night shouldn’t require you to spend a fortune on a brand-new air conditioning system. Try a hot bath, change up your sheets, get those fans spinning in the right direction, and if all else fails, buy some high-tech cooling products. Remember: getting sufficient high-quality sleep is the most important factor in maintaining your physical and mental health. Don’t let a hot bed bring you down.
Chris Brantner is the Certified Sleep Science Coach and founder of SleepZoo.com, a site dedicated to sleep news, tips, and mattress reviews. When he’s not obsessing over sleep, Chris is probably working out, hanging out with his family, or freelance writing for various publications.
A real sleep saver!