Getting your best night’s sleep isn’t easy, and one of the main problems is that your nightly needs change during different seasons. When it’s cold you may need to bundle up more and fight against the chills, while during the autumn or spring you have to be somewhere between hot and cold. The summer is one of the most difficult months for many people to sleep, because beating the heat at night is hard!
How can you sleep well during the summer, when the temperature is at its highest? Air conditioning systems are expensive to run all summer long, so I want to take a look at some of the more natural, cheaper alternatives you have.
How Summer Can Affect Your Sleep
The worst part of sleeping during the summer is the heat. Some nights you can’t avoid sweating, even if you have a fan blowing around the room and no sheets on your body! If your body stays too hot and uncomfortable, you won’t able to fall asleep. On the nights you manage to sleep, you might not even get restful sleep and may wake up throughout the night. In the morning, you will feel horrible, as if you hardly slept at all.
Combatting the Heat
Eventually, your body may get used to the heat. But, this can take a long time and is not guaranteed for everyone. Waiting for your body to acclimate to the heat is not a practical solution for everyone either, as you will still have to maintain your daily routines and function properly throughout the season.
So, what can you do to combat the heat of summer nights?
How to Get the Best Sleep During the Summer
There are a lot of creative things you can do which may help you sleep well during the summer. Decreasing the heat in your home or making things a bit cooler in your bed can be done without A/C, although it is admittedly not as simple in many cases. Try some of these tips and see if they work for you:
- Hang a Damp Sheet in the Window
If you have even a slight breeze coming into your room from outside, you can hang a damp sheet from your window. When the air blows in your room, it will pass through the sheet and pick up some of the cooler air coming off of the sheet as the water evaporates. This will help to lower the temperature in your room. You might want to hang the sheet about an hour before you go to bed, and perhaps wet it again once you’re getting into bed.
- Make Your Own Lo-Tech Air Conditioner
If you want to blow cool air around your room, you can get ice from the freezer and place it a bowl. Put that bowl in front of a fan. When you turn the fan on, it will pick up the cold air that’s coming from the bowl of ice and blow it around the room. This is kind of like an A/C unit, although it won’t be quite as effective.
- Invest in a Better Pillow
Most pillows are not designed to be highly breathable or cool; they are mostly designed for softness and comfort. While these are great, they will not make you comfortable in the summer because your pillow will heat up and make it difficult to sleep. Look for a breathable pillow with a cotton or specially designed cover. Also, check for a filling that’s more breathable, such as buckwheat or some synthetic compounds.
For pregnant women, a pregnancy body pillow that meets the above qualifications can actually help you stay cooler than sleeping without one. You can tuck part of the pillow between your legs to keep your body heat from spreading too much, use part of it for belly support, and lay your head on the top part. It might surprise you how much this will actually help you sleep, because it gives support along with great airflow around your body.
During the day you might be tempted to light up the house with the bright sun. However, this can work against you by increasing the temperature in your home. Instead, try keeping the shades down and blocking as much sun as you can to keep the house cooler during the day. The cooler it is in the afternoon, the better you’ll feel at night when the temperatures inside are also lower.
- Adjust to a Summer-Friendly Diet
If you have a huge, hard to digest meal in your stomach than you are more likely to feel warmer at night. Eating more raw fruits and veggies or light meals in the evening can help to keep your body from releasing too much heat while you’re digesting and trying to sleep.
- Buy Breathable Cotton Sheets
Just as it matters what your pillow is filled and covered with, it also matters what kind of bedsheets you’re using. Try something with a lower thread count that’s made from a material such as Egyptian cotton. This is one of the best materials as far as breathability, so you will get more airflow at night and not feel quite so hot.
- Switch to a Hammock or Cot
Mattresses have a tendency to trap heat and reflect it back to you as you sleep. If possible, try rigging up a hammock or sleeping in a cot. Both of these allow some air to travel below you, making you feel cooler during the night.
Are you able to sleep downstairs in your home or closer to the floor? The lower you are, the less heat you will be exposed to. If you have tile or stone floors, it can be a great idea to sleep closer to the floor where the stone will cool you down as well.
To avoid bringing so much heat in the house, try to cook as many meals as possible outside. Grilling is a great way to cook outside in the summer, and it saves your home from filling with heat from the oven and stovetop. Whenever possible, grill your meals and incorporate uncooked foods like fruits and vegetables.
Before you go to bed, take a shower in cool water. Avoid using hot water, because this will increase your core temperature. Use lukewarm or cool water to decrease your body temperature slightly before you go to bed. There is also the added benefit of feeling fresh, clean, and sweat-free to help you fall asleep more easily!
How to Sleep Well During the Rest of the Year
Be careful that whatever you do to sleep better in the summer is not permanent. If you live in an area with four distinct seasons, there will eventually come a time of year when you want to stay warm instead of cooling down.
During spring and autumn, you can use some of these techniques when the evenings are warm, but you will also need to bundle up a bit more if they nights become cold. If you choose to stay cool with breathable sheets, for example, you will need to keep a blanket handy once the seasons are changing. When winter rolls around, change your methods and eliminate your summer cooling methods in favor of warmer sleeping habits.
While you might find it hard to sleep during the heat of the summer, you can try to implement a few of the methods I talked about above. Who knows, maybe you’ll sleep comfortably for the first time this summer!
Have you ever tried any of these techniques? How well did they work? I’d love to hear any other suggestions you have for low-tech, easy ways to cool down and sleep well in the summer. Just leave me a comment below!