10 Ways to Sleep Cooler You’ve Probably Never Tried (AC Not Required)

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Ah, summertime. We may love the pool parties, beach days, and barbecues, but one thing none of us love is trying to sleep in the heat. And the simple fact is, your AC can only help so much. Not only will it cost you an arm and a leg to keep it humming 24/7, but if you’re one of many people that sleep hot, trying to catch some zzz’s on a sweltering summer night might require some more creative solutions. If you don’t have AC or don’t care for the incredibly high energy bill, we’ll show you how to stay cool in the heat and in turn, improve your night’s sleep.

Why is hot weather so disruptive to sleep?

To prepare for sleep, your metabolism will naturally begin to slow down. And in doing so, your core temperature drops. That’s why so many experts recommend keeping your room temperature on the cool side (between 60 - 67 degrees fahrenheit) to promote better sleep. During a heat wave, it can be difficult to achieve an optimal core temperature, resulting in tossing, turning, and less restorative sleep.

Use a cooling mattress or topper

Let your bed do some of the work for you. A cooling mattress or topper with specially formulated cooling gel will help keep your core temperature lower, promoting sound and undisturbed sleep. The investment will be well worth it. If you really want to give yourself a leg up against the heat, the Ultra Cooling Gel Mattress is hands down our best mattress for hot sleepers.

Create cross ventilation with windows and doors

Opening a window is one thing, but doing it properly for better airflow is another. By creating cross ventilation using the breeze outside, your bedroom will feel naturally cooler. To do this, locate which direction the outside wind is blowing, and open a window or door on the side of the room that will allow it to come straight in. Then, open one on the opposite side of the room. This two-window method ensures that stagnant hot air gets swept up and carried outside, leaving things comfortably cool inside.

No breeze? Use pedestal fans to create one. Place one fan in front of the shadiest window in the room, pointing it towards the inside. Then place another pointed towards the opposite window to carry hot air out.

If you’ve only got one window or doorway to the outside in your room, opening it on a blistering day might not be the best solution. Since cold air is lighter than hot air, it moves more freely around (and out of) a space and might escape once you crack the window. But don’t worry. If you can’t create a cross breeze, there are lots of other ways to keep cool.

Use CFL or LED lightbulbs

Believe it or not, your lightbulbs could be causing your room temperatures to rise. Incandescent bulbs give off almost all of their energy as heat (as opposed to actual light), meaning keeping the lights on all day will heat up the house and make it harder to cool things down once they go out. Switching your lights to more energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs will help you conserve energy and eliminate excess heat, preventing overuse of your AC at the same time. And their longer lifespan make them well worth the extra initial expense.

And when it’s especially hot out, plan ahead for bedtime by turning your lights off a few hours prior. (What better excuse to get outside and soak up some vitamin D?)

Block out light before bedtime

Another way to keep your room temperature low? Draw the shades and close your blinds at least 2 hours before it’s lights out. Again, eliminating all light sources will cool down your bedroom significantly, enabling your body to better wind down for sleep.

Try a hot shower

On a sweltering day, a hot bath or shower might not sound too appealing. But research has shown that hot water bathing before bed can stimulate blood flow to the hands and feet, allowing it to escape and your core temperature to come down.

Sleep in the right position

Perhaps one of the simplest ways to keep cool in bed is to sleep in a position that will allow body heat to dissipate. There are two different positions that can help you accomplish this.

The starfish

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In the starfish position, you lie on your back with your arms and legs spread out much like a starfish. This essentially exposes your vital organs to the open air and lets heat escape through the arms and legs.

The log

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If you prefer a side-sleeping position, or you share a bed and space is limited, the log position can also help you sleep cooler. To use it, lie on your side with your legs straight down. This will expose a greater portion of your body to the air around you, cooling you down.

Keep your bed low (but not on the floor)

As we all know, heat rises, meaning that hot air will collect near your ceiling. Keeping your bed low will help you take advantage of the coolest air your room has to offer. However, it’s best not to put your mattress right on the floor, because this can lead to more dust mites and mold over time. Not to mention, it can be pretty difficult to get up off of the floor every morning. For the coolest sleep experience, you’ll want to choose a low profile bed (our SmartBase® Low Profile Foundation and our Suzanne Metal and Wood Platform Bed Frame are great options) that’ll still allow some air to pass beneath it.

Eat a light dinner

A heavy meal will require more energy for your body to digest. So for dinner, make sure that you stick to a lighter meal so your body temperature can more easily come down when it’s time for sleep.

Drink a warm beverage

Although it sounds counterintuitive, a cup of hot tea (caffeine-free, of course) or other warm drink before bed can help you cool off. Ingesting something hot can decrease your body’s heat retention by causing you to sweat. But since this cooling method requires sweat evaporation, it works best in dryer climates and when you wear light and breathable clothing (or none at all, if that’s how you like to sleep).

Regulate your circadian rhythm

This one takes a little more effort, but it’s well worth it. Your circadian rhythm is what controls your body’s functions as they relate to sleeping and waking. If yours gets out of whack, it’ll be harder for you to settle down for sleep once the sun goes down, and your core temperature may stay elevated past bedtime. Luckily, you can reset it with some simple lifestyle changes like getting regular sunlight exposure and sticking to a set bedtime and wake time. Regulating this important bodily function will help you sleep better through all seasons, summer heat waves included!