16 ways to still get quality sleep, even when it’s hot at night
Another Summer is coming to an end in the land of the long white cloud, but we still have some sunny days to enjoy before the mercury starts to drop. While the warmer seasons are great for getting out outdoors, at night, we are often find ourselves wearing less to bed and kicking off the sheets to keep cool.
Warm nights can be uncomfortable, tossing and turning amongst the pillows with sweat dampened sheets clinging to our skin. While they don’t happen that often, they certainly can make it harder to get comfortable and fall asleep when they do.
But it’s not just the discomfort causing us problems.
Did you know that the temperature of both our bodies and our surroundings can also have an impact on the quality of rest we get each night, too? Heat doesn’t just make it hard to fall asleep – it also impacts on how well we sleep.
Getting enough quality sleep is essential to our ongoing health and wellbeing, which means it’s important to get the conditions right.
To help out, we have written this blog full of information and some handy tips to keep your cool and rest easier this summer.
What happens to our body temperature while we are sleeping?
Room and body temperature has a significant impact on our sleep, so getting this right is worth the effort.
During sleep, we go through multiple stages1. The first stage is where you transition from consciousness and into light sleep. Then over the following stages, the body’s core temperature generally needs to drop by about two to three degrees2 to reach the state of deep sleep. If our core temperature is too high, however, it’s harder for the brain to differentiate the transition between the states of awake and sleep clearly, which can directly impact how effectively we rest.
The temperature of our surrounding environment can affect our core temperature, meaning that how hot or cold your room is can have more of an influence than you may realise.
In general, it has been found that around 16 to 18 degrees Celsius is ideal2,3, and that’s because this range is the most complementary to the cooler temperatures your core experiences during the middle of the night. These lower temperatures promote a more restful sleep by ensuring that your body doesn’t warm up earlier that normal and therefore transition too quickly out of the deep sleep stages.
Essentially what this means is that rooms which are dark, quiet and cool offer us far better conditions to get the best rest each night.
So, with the weather warmer , what can we do to help us create the optimal environment to get the most out of our sleeping hours? Here are 16 ways to get more proactive and help you get some quality shuteye, even when it’s hot.
16 Tips to Help You Sleep Through the Heat
Now that we understand that we need to keep our bedrooms cooler to ensure our core temperatures can reach that optimal state, the most obvious solution is to blast the air conditioning unit all night long, lay down and fall into a deep and peaceful slumber.
However, imagine the steep energy bill you’d receive every month! Not to mention that it isn’t the most environmentally friendly option either. But don’t worry- there are other ways.
It’s actually easier to keep your bedroom cold without using AC than you may think, and it can mean the difference between a sleepless, sticky night in a makeshift sauna, and some blissful ZZZs.
So here are some DIY tricks to keep your cool during the hotter months for a great night’s sleep, without blowing the budget.
(1) Keep your windows open
If your room is warmer than outside, which can often be the case, leave the windows open during the night to let in a fresh breeze. Night air tends to be cooler throughout the early hours of the morning, and the fresh air circulation can help keep the temperature down by preventing your room from becoming stuffy.
(2) Using a fan
Fans are an inexpensive alternative to using air-conditioning. Using them throughout the night to keep circulating the air can draw heat out of the room and even push it out of the open window .
You can get creative by placing a bowl full of ice cubes in front of the fan. The breeze will slowly distribute the melting cold vapour from the surface of the ice, generating a cooling mist.
(3) Drinking more water
This one should go without saying! Drinking a glass of chilled water before bed keeps your body hydrated and cool, and replenishes any loss of water due to sweating.
(4) The late cold shower
If you’re already feeling hot before heading to bed, getting under a cold shower can take the heat out of your skin, help drop your core body temperature and rinse of any sweat before entering into the sheets, clean and comfortably.
(5) Sleeping on ice
If you’re really struggling with heat, grab an ice pack from the freezer, wrap it in a tea towel and place it in the bed wherever it feels comfortable. This can also work by using a hot water bottle! Fill it with water and pop it in the freezer for a bed-friendly solution.
To get more instant relief, place the pack around your pulse points on your wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles and even behind your knees. The cold will get transported quickly around your body, and you’ll notice the difference almost immediately. Just don’t get too cold!
(6) A damp compress
An oldie but a goodie to help your body shed some extra degrees at night is to simply moisten a towel or cloth, and either place it on your forehead or body. Just don’t saturate the towel to avoid soaking your mattress and sheets.
(7) Less light, more darkness
All light bulbs give off some sort of heat that we just don’t want when trying to get a good night’s sleep. It stays lighter much later during the hotter months, so take advantage and try to keep light usage to a minimum. Not only does this keep your room cooler, there are additional sleeping benefits to keeping your room dark.
For more information, read our blog, Does darkness affect how you sleep?
(8) Turning off the electronics, too
Similar to turning off the lights, it’s equally beneficial to turn off the electronics too. Devices like your smart phone give off heat and light that both aren’t conducive to getting a quality night’s sleep. So put them away and let yourself drift more peacefully.
(9) Storing those blankets
While blankets and a doona are great during the colder nights, keeping them simply out of habit on your bed when it’s hot can make you sweat throughout the night. This can disrupt your sleep as your body struggles to drop its temperature. Store them in a cupboard until you need them again.
(10) Using breathable bed linen
Light-weight, quality bed linen is breathable, offering exceptional freshness in hot weather, which means that it won’t trap your body heat by allowing it to disperse. The less heat that remains, the easier it is to feel cooler and more comfortable as you drift off to sleep.
So save the polyester, silk and satin sheets for colder nights or special occasions!
(11) Freezing your sheets
Now for a tip that’s a little more unusual: fold your sheets into a plastic bag and pop them in the freezer as you brush your teeth before bed. Don’t leave them there for too long, but long enough to cool them right down and then place them onto your bed to provide you with temporary relief as you try to settle down for the night.
(12) Invest in a good bed
A high-quality mattress often can dissipate your body heat much more effectively than other alternatives, which means that it is helping your core reach the ideal temperatures for the best sleep.
(13) Keeping your distance
While it’s comfortable to snuggle up to your partner during those colder nights, when it’s hot, getting too close to each other will share body temperatures and hold the heat between you for much longer, making it harder for your temperatures to drop to the optimal point for a better sleep.
Keeping further apart is probably a better solution when trying to keep cool.
(14) Telling your pets: “off!”
Just like our partners, we all love our four legged friends, but the less bodies in a room to contribute body temperature, the better! This especially applies if your dog or cat jumps up and takes a share of the bed. Their added heat can make it harder for your body to cool to the right temperature for the best sleep.
(15) Loosen the nightwear
Loose, soft cotton pyjamas can help keep you cooler by dissipating the heat, similar to the way that the cotton sheets do. They allow for air flow and breathability, while absorbing excess sweat from your skin.
(16) Spreading out
Stretching out across the bed with your arms and legs wide is a really simple and easy way to keep your temperature down by increasing air circulation around your limbs and reducing sweat.
Do you use a CPAP Machine?
If you are a CPAP machine user, hot nights can create a further challenge because the mask on your face can sometimes trap heat. But don’t worry, as it’s fairly easy to manage.
You can test out all of the above tips while using your CPAP device and work out which work best for you. However, if you are having difficulties dealing with excessive heat when it comes to your mask or the formation of condensation (known as ‘rainout’), it’s best to ask your Sleep Professional who can guide you in the right direction.
For example, you may need to consider a more accommodating mask which allows for better airflow, such as the ResMed AirTouch with foam cushion, a humidifier feature to control air temperature and moisture, or even the use of mask-liner accessories that release the pressure of the mask on your face.
Keeping cool during those warmer months
Don’t forget that excess heat at night can do more than make you uncomfortable, sweaty and sticky- it can prevent you from achieving the quality sleep that your body needs every night for good health and well-being.
It’s worth trying a few of the above tips to investigate the best solutions to manage your bedroom’s temperature, as the cooler it is, the more influence if will have on your core temperature, which signals your body to rest.
Are you still having problems sleeping?
In a world today where it’s all too easy to experience sleep depravity, we should all be aiming to get the most out of our sleep to remain healthy and happy each day.
If you are experiencing problems sleeping, you may wish to consider undertaking a free sleep assessment to better understand how to improve your restful state and your overall health.
The assessment asks you a series of simple questions designed to help you uncover the cause, and the results will be conveniently sent to you via an email.
You can access our Sleep Assessment here:
(1) Health Navigator, NZ. ‘Why Sleep Is Important’. https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/healthy-living/sleep/why-sleep-is-important/. Accessed 11 Feb, 2018.
(2) The Australian. ‘For a better night’s sleep, you’ve got to really work on that core (temperature)’. Feb 2016. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/health-wellbeing/for-a-better-nights-sleep-youve-got-to-really-work-on-that-core-temperature/news-story/34fa8c4fa2a795d0cc447cabc24d9606. Accessed 11 February, 2018.
(3) Sleep.org. ‘The Ideal Temperature For Sleep’. https://sleep.org/articles/temperature-for-sleep/. Accessed 11 February, 2018.