For better or worse, most Americans worship at the altar of air conditioning: All summer long, every restaurant, office, car, and public space is numbingly frigid, which feels fabulous until you start shivering like you’re hiking the tundra, rather than sitting at your desk.
Plus—apart from being generally aggressive and uncomfortable for some people—freezing manufactured air can also cause lingering summer colds, stiff limbs, and exposure to pesky particles and mold. All reasons why not everyone chooses to install AC in their home—something that might not be such a big deal until it’s time to go to bed.
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Luckily, there are things you can do to get a good night’s sleep during the summer if you’re without air conditioning—and they’re all remarkably simple. Read on to cool off!
1. Always buy 100% cotton sheets.
Much like wearing cotton clothing during the dog days, your sheets also need to be made from the ultra-breathable fabric. Be sure to read labels, as many sheet sets are made with a cotton-polyester blend, which won’t be nearly as cool.
Right now, we’re can’t get enough of Boll and Branch, which offers affordable sheets in sizes ranging from twin to California king, and each are made from 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton and eco-friendly, non-toxic dyes, and are grown and woven in Fair Trade certified farms and mills. Oh, and they’re insanely comfortable.
2. Position your fan differently.
Obviously, we all think of a fan being most effective when it’s facing us, but try pointing it toward an open window. This “sucks” hot air out of your room, and pulls in cooler air in from outside.
3. The ol’ ice trick.
One of the oldest tricks in the book: Place a bowl of ice in front of your fan, which will cool you off as the ice melts and evaporates. However, as Real Simple points out, this trick works best in hot, dry climates, rather than humid ones.
4. Shut the blinds, shades, or curtains during the day.
While you’re at work, be sure to keep your bedroom as dark as possible. In fact, closing curtains and blinds (ideally with sun-deflecting white on the window side) can reduce the amount of heat that filters into your home into your home by as much as 45 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Same goes for windows—if it’s warmer than 75 degrees outside, keep it closed.
5. Sleep in loose cotton—not naked.
If you’re really sweltering, you might think sleeping naked is the ticket, but some folks claim sleeping sans clothing keeps sweat on your body and in your bed, as opposed to being wicked by cotton. An oversize cotton T-shirt or tank top will keep you cool and comfy all night.
6. Shut down.
Before bed, unplug or shut down appliances that give off a lot of heat like your laptop or other big-ticket charging devices.
7. Skip the heavy dinners.
We eat lighter in the summer for a reason: Heavy, fatty foods aren’t as easy to digest, and can leave us feeling full, sluggish, and just gross—the last way on earth we want to feel when it’s stiflingly hot outside. Skip the steak and potatoes, or carb-filled pasta, and instead choose fresh fish, simple grilled chicken, and plenty of watery produce.
8. Watch your booze.
Sure, sometimes alcohol makes us pass out and become completely oblivious to the world around us, but drinking too much can also disrupt your sleep patterns causing you to wake up throughout the night, sweating and thirsty—precisely not what you want to be doing during a heat wave. If you do enjoy a few drinks now and again (hey, it’s summer!), be sure to chase each one with a full glass of water, and swap heavy dark liquors like scotch, whiskey, and red wine for lighter cocktails like white wine, prosecco, or vodka mixed with club soda (bonus if you toss in water-packed fruits or veggies like cucumbers or melon slices.)
9. Shower before bed.
Even if you’re more of a morning bather, taking a cool (or lukewarm) shower before you go to sleep rids your body of excess sweat, and lowers your body temperature.
10. Have cold feet.
To combat rising body temperatures throughout the night, keep a cool bucket or bowl of cold water next to your bed, and dip your feet when you’re feeling excessively hot.
11. Sprinkle your sheets with powder.
Did you know that sprinkling some baby powder on your sheets will keep them cool? It absorbs sweat like a champ.
12. Sleep alone if you can, or at least spread out.
Sorry, compulsive cuddlers: Summer’s not the time to latch on to your partner while sleeping, as it creates even more body heat between you. While sleeping alone is preferable in very hot weather, that’s not always feasible. A solution: If you have the space, it’s best to snooze in a spread-eagle position, with arms and legs spread wide and away from the body. This will help the body retain less icky heat and moisture.