When that summer heat wave comes around, you might know all too well that feeling of not being able to sleep because it’s just too hot. While recent research found that it is easiest to fall asleep when the thermostat is set to 18°C, staying at that temperature year-around is easier said than done.
Obviously it’s neither economical nor good for the environment to run your air conditioning all night, so here are some other natural ways to help keep the temperature down.
Check Your Environment
Manage light and temperature
Before your leave in the morning, block out the heat of the day by keeping the windows closed and drawing the curtains or blinds. On the contrary, if the
temperature drops off towards the later afternoon, opening up the windows can help cool the house down. If your bedroom curtains are made of a lighter,
sheer material, opt for a thicker curtain that can best block out the sun’s rays.
Cook cool and light
Thinking of roasting, braising or baking? Think again. One sure way to quickly increase the temperature inside your house is to use an indoor oven. If you’re baking in the evening, that heat will likely stick around until well into the night. Instead, try cooking outside on the grill, whip up no-cook recipes like salads and sandwiches or order take-away. An extra tip: keep the meals light and mild (not spicy) to help promote better sleep.
Limit light use before bed
We switch off the lights just before going to bed, but try turning them off in the hours leading up to bedtime as well. Lights (incandescent and LED) produce heat as well as light, so if they are on in your bedroom all evening, you are inadvertently heating up your room. To minimise the heat, make an effort to limit the lighting you use no matter which room you are in (i.e. use lamps instead of overhead lights).
Prep Your Bed
Choose the right sheets
Do you have different sheets for different seasons? When the weather starts to warm up, it’s time to put away any polyester, silk, or dark colored sheets. Instead, switch them out for light colored linens made of lightweight cotton. These allow for better ventilation, letting all that heat escape.
Use fans wisely
Don't reach for the AC remote – fans are a much cheaper alternative to help you cool down, especially if you engineer them correctly. Set your ceiling fan to run counter-clockwise so hot air is pulled up instead of just being pushed around the room. If you have a small box fan, place it in the window facing outwards, so it blows all the hot air out (and vice versa). If you've got more than one fan on hand, this can help to create a nice cross-breeze that better dispels the heat. To maximise the air flow of a stand fan, keep your bedroom door open and put the fan in the corner of the room facing you.
Check your mattress
The type of mattress you lie on also plays a role in the amount of heat you experience while sleeping. Look out for one that is designed with air flow, quick evaporation and ventilation in mind. For example, Sealy's Crown Jewel mattress collection contains a fabric treatment known as Smartex to the mattress ticking; this allows moisture to disperse as the temperature rises, helping to speed up evaporation and cooling. In addition, Sealy’s Premium and Performance mattress range both contain a Spacer Airflow Gusset for ventilation, which circulates airflow in and around the mattress, allowing it to 'breathe' and help cool your body down. Furthermore, the comfort level and layers of a mattress also impact the amount of heat you experience during sleep. For example, a firm mattress has less conformance than a soft one, allowing more airflow between the bed and body which has a cooling effect.
Control Your Body Temperature
Wear light clothing
The clothing you choose to sleep in should follow the same guidelines as the sheets; light, loose and made of cotton. It will help to wick away sweat from your body while allowing air to circulate and keep you cool.
Take a lukewarm shower
You can also bring down your body temperature before bed by taking a shower or bath. Be careful the water isn’t too cold, however – freezing cold temperatures can cause your body to heat up in an attempt to counteract the coldness. For best results, set the water to a lukewarm temperature.
Don’t exercise at night
While working-out might allow you to unwind from the day, be aware that the increases in your body’s temperature means you’ll find yourself feeling a little bit warmer afterward. Instead, opt for a morning exercise routine and your body will have plenty of time to get back to its normal temperature by bedtime.
Use an ice pack
Got an ice pack in the freezer? Take it with you to bed! Place it on your head, neck, armpits or back to help cool down the entire body.
Lastly, stay hydrated by drinking cool water before bed, making sure it’s not too cold. It’s a good idea to avoid drinking alcohol before bed as this can cause your body temperature to rise, making it harder to fall asleep.
Stay Cool and Get a Better Night’s Sleep
Now that research has proven that temperature has a direct impact on how easy or difficult it is to fall asleep, try out a few of these tips next time you want to cool down. You’ll be able to fall asleep more easily – and can keep your electricity bill down too.