When it’s too hot or humid to sleep, many of us have had to put up with the discomfort. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can cool down in the evening and keep your body temperature at a reasonable level all night long. To avoid overheating while you sleep, you should refrain from engaging in certain activities before going to bed.
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How Temperature Affects Sleep
In the early evening, your body temperature begins to drop as part of a natural sleep cycle. Sleep, appetite, emotions, and other body processes are all influenced by circadian rhythms. The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), or circadian clock, is a cluster of cells in the hypothalamus part of your brain that regulates your body’s circadian rhythm.
The SCN receives a wake-up signal from the retinas of your eyes while you’re outside in the daylight. This increases the production of cortisol, a hormone that increases alertness and maintains a normal body temperature. Daytime temperature for most people is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius).
When the sun sets, your eyes will detect the absence of light and alert your brain’s SCN appropriately. This causes the release of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleepiness and a restful night’s rest. Additionally, your core temperature drops as a result.
During the first two stages of your sleep cycle, known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, your body temperature will continue to drop. Eventually, your body temperature will fall to its lowest point and stay there for the rest of the night. During the night, most people will see a temperature dip of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Your core temperature will gradually return to normal before you awaken. By doing this, you’ll wake up feeling energized and ready to take on the day.
External temperatures can disrupt sleep’s natural thermoregulation. In the spring, summer, and early fall, the temperature in your bedroom may be too high, causing your body temperature to rise and disrupting your sleep. When you’re in the first two stages of non-rapid eye movement sleep, you’re more likely to wake up if you’re feeling hot.
Slow-wave sleep, which is the third stage of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the fourth and final stage, can both be shortened by waking up when you are in the first two stages. During slow-wave and REM sleep, your cells rebuild, your immune system recovers, and other physiological processes take place, therefore these two stages are essential for a good night’s rest. You’ll be more fatigued and less rested the next day if you don’t spend enough time in these stages.
8 Ways To Sleep Better When It’s Blistering Hot Outside
A single mother, Jenni June raised four children in residences without air conditioning in Oregon and Southern California. She said it was difficult to watch her children struggle to sleep in the sweltering summer heat.
When her kids were overheated, she came up with innovative ways to chill them down before night, such as wetting and freezing their favorite teddy bears.
I’m really sorry for my children, it was heartbreaking.” For a long time, June struggled with keeping her children cool and comfortable as well as protecting their sleep. “Keeping your core body temperature cool is more difficult when a room is hot due to the warm weather outside. We must be able to shift from one sleep cycle into the next without being fully awakened in the middle of the night to get into the deeper, more restorative stages of sleep.”
She went on to explain that cooler temperatures encourage your body to manufacture more melatonin, a potent sleep-inducing hormone. In order to get a decent night’s sleep, you should avoid sleeping in a heated environment that is practically difficult to cool down. Poor sleep has a wide range of negative consequences, from higher risk of heart disease and diabetes type 2 to unnecessary car accidents.
A few sleep experts, including June, provided us with some tips on how to get a good night’s sleep even if it’s hot outside.
1. Close the windows and draw the blinds
This may appear to be a contradiction. June, on the other hand, recommends that you close the windows, pull the shades, and plug up any air leaks in your bedroom before the sun sets.
A nice time to open your windows and let some fresh air in is when it’s cooler at night, she said. “The easiest way to circulate the air in your room when your windows are closed is to use a good fan.”
2. Open your bedroom door
June recommends increasing the amount of air movement in your bedroom in order to keep it cool. Allowing fresh air into your home by opening your bedroom door can help you stay cool. In addition, she recommends using as many fans as possible to promote circulation and to remove moisture from the skin during exercise.
3. Sleep downstairs
Because heat rises, a lower-floor living room will be more comfortable than an upper-floor bedroom. For those who have a cooler room downstairs, June suggests setting up an air mattress or draping a sheet across the couch to serve as a makeshift bed.
4. Eat lighter foods
Even if you don’t think so, the food you eat throughout the day can have an impact on how well you sleep at night. Retired New York University professor of medicine Dr. Joyce Walsleben advocates eating a little less during the day and consuming lighter foods “so your gut isn’t working overtime and causing extra heat.”
5. Freeze your sheets
Taking a chilly object to bed with you can help keep your room at a more comfortable temperature while you sleep.
One of June’s tried-and-true methods for keeping her four kids’ top sheets cool was to soak them in water, wring them dry, then freeze them. As long as it wasn’t so wet that it soaked their bedding, they slept fine at night.
6. Take a cool shower or bath before bed
Taking a chilly shower or bath before going to bed can help you sleep better by lowering your core body temperature.
Cooling the body down “substantially,” Walsleben added, particularly if it’s a long, cool bath. “It also eliminates the day’s oils and allows your skin to expel toxins.”
7. Drink plenty of cold beverages close to bedtime
While relaxing for an hour before bed, Walsleben recommends sipping an icy beverage. Drinking ice-cold water can help lower your body’s core temperature, much like taking a cold shower. (Always make sure the beverage you choose is free of caffeine and alcohol, as these can both affect sleep.)
8. Sleep naked
If you’ve never had a nip or tuck, this advice might not be for you. But June points out that sleeping in your birthday suit allows you to maintain your body temperature down as you sleep. Try PJs made of 100% cotton if you can’t sleep without them. In terms of breathability and wicking moisture away from the body, it’s the best fabric out there.
Tips for Staying Cool On Hot Nights
It’s important to keep your body temperature at a lower level while you sleep, so you may need to take additional measures to keep cool if it’s too hot. These include things you can do before you go to sleep and while you’re sleeping.
What You Can Do Before Bed
Tips for a cool, comfortable night’s sleep include:
- Pull down the drapes to keep the heat out of your sleeping quarters, even on the hottest of days. Don’t open the drapes or blinds until you’re ready to go to sleep. Keeping bedrooms cool in the summer and warm when temperatures drop is a common benefit of blackout curtains, which are made to block out all light from outside.
- Don’t workout right before going to sleep: Moderate physical activity throughout the day can help you sleep better at night because it burns calories and makes you sleepy at night. However, exercising right before going to sleep can raise your body temperature. Sleeping in the middle of the day can make it more challenging.
- It may not sound fun to lie in a tub of warm water on a hot night, but this is a great way to cool off before going to bed7. The best time to take a hot bath is an hour or two before going to bed, but not right before. As your body adjusts to the colder environment, your body temperature will drop. As an added benefit, the calming effects of a bath can hasten your bedtime.
- Choosing the appropriate mattress and pillow can make a big difference in your quality of sleep at night. In order to avoid overheating, it is best to avoid mattresses with thick foams. Compared to other mattresses, vented latex and open coil systems circulate air throughout the interior to keep the sleeper cool. The similar effect can be achieved with cooling pillows. Latex, vented foam, and wool pillows are some of the best ways to keep your body temperature in check while you sleep.
- Natural fiber sheets and pillowcases, such cotton or linen, are better at wicking away moisture than synthetic bedding. Cooling comfort is also found in plant-based materials like rayon from bamboo, which is used in some bed coverings.
Ways To Stay Cool While You Sleep
In order to keep cool and comfortable in bed, you can take the following steps:
- 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius) is generally considered to be the ideal temperature for a peaceful night’s sleep by most experts. This thermostat setting helps your body maintain its natural core temperature for sleeping, despite the fact that it sounds a little chilly. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, although most people prefer a temperature range of 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius).
- Find the right level of clothes for you: Some people prefer to sleep naked or semi-nude, while others prefer to sleep in pajamas or sweats. Keep in mind that thick, insulating bedclothes might raise your body temperature and lead you to overheat in bed – especially on hot or humid evenings – so choose your sleeping apparel carefully.
- A bedside fan can be a useful tool: You’ll be able to keep cool with the help of a good box or window fan. Adding a fan to your room is a good idea even if you have an air conditioner.
- Make sure you have a supply of ice water nearby: If you wake up in the middle of the night because you’re too hot, a glass of cold water by your bedside can be a lifesaver. In a pinch, an ice pack can be used.
Place your pillowcases in the freezer the night before you plan to go to bed and use them as a cooling blanket on your pillow.
Summertime is not the only season to use these methods. Because high temperatures are the norm in your area, you may find them useful all year round.