Warm summer nights are great for many things—alfresco dinners, long walks on the beach, catching fireflies—but, unfortunately, sleeping isn’t one of them. Higher evening temperatures prevent us from cooling down naturally, blocking the release of melatonin and making it nearly impossible for us to drift off to dreamland—and stay there. While the most obvious solution for keeping your bedroom at an optimum temperature (about 68 degrees according to sleep experts) might be to invest in a state-of-the-art air conditioner, sometimes that’s not always an option: Even the smallest window units are money-eating energy guzzlers and environmental antagonists. Here are six tips to help you stay cool as a cucumber and catch those all-important zzzs when the mercury rises.
Take preventative measures
Keep shades, curtains, or blinds closed during the hours when sunlight is strongest to prevent heat from building up in your home. Because warmth rises, it’s especially important to do this in rooms on upper levels.
Make water your friend
Stay hydrated throughout the day by getting at least eight glasses of H2O, which helps regulate internal body temperature through sweat. In the evening, taking a tepid shower just before bedtime cleans away that sticky feeling but also reduces your core temperature. (Just don’t take an ice-cold one—your body will compensate by raising your core temperature, yielding the opposite effect.)
Surround yourself in cotton (or linen)
Because natural fibers like cotton and linen are lightweight and breathable, they allow for more airflow than synthetic materials and are ideal choices for pajamas—opt for a loose fit for even more ventilation—and bedding.
Check your fan
If you’re lucky enough to have a ceiling fan, make sure the blades are running counter-clockwise, pulling hot air up and out of the room, during warm summer months. And while you’re at it, go ahead and leave your door and windows open (assuming it’s not too hot and you have a screen to catch mosquitoes before they bite you) to create a generous cross breeze that will give the hot air somewhere to go and make your fan more efficient.
Don't forget your freezer
A cold compress can work wonders on an overheated body when applied to pulse points like your temples, wrists, and neck. If all of your attempts to cool down have provided little relief, place a damp washcloth in the freezer for an hour, then place it on your forehead before bed. You can also freeze a water bottle and keep it on your nightstand to sip as a quick midnight refresher or touch to those same pulse points throughout the night.
Adjust your lifestyle
Instead of loading up on gut-busting pasta and steak dinners, which require heat-radiating appliances to produce and tons of warmth-generating energy to digest, choose smaller, lighter meals, like chilled soups, ceviches, and salads, that keep you away from the stove or oven.
Of course, if all else fails, you can always make like your grandmother and place a bowl of ice cubes in front of an oscillating fan and see how far that gets you. (After all, it gives new meaning to the phrase “throwback Thursday.”) Or, just start with the sheets. Talk about the perfect marriage of form and function. Happy sleeping!