Sleep Health

Too hot to sleep? 16 tips to getting sleep on a hot night

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Is the summer heat making it hard to get some sleep? Wake up feeling refreshed and energised with these tips and tricks on how to keep it cool when the nights are hot and sticky. 

While summer’s great for outdoor fun or catching up with friends, at night when you’re trying to get some shut-eye you may find it harder to get comfortable and fall asleep. 

Getting a comfortable night’s sleep in a heat wave can be tricky - but did you know that the temperature of both your body and your surroundings can affect the quality of your sleep? Heat doesn't just make it hard to fall asleep - it also affects how well you sleep.

Here are some handy tips to keep you cool and sleep easier this summer.

What happens to your body temperature when you sleep?

The temperature of your room and your body have a significant impact on your sleep, so getting these 2 things right is worth the effort.

During sleep, you go through multiple stages.1 The first stage is where you drift from consciousness into light sleep. Then over the following stages, your body's core temperature generally needs to drop by about two to three degrees2 before you can reach the state of deep sleep. If your core temperature is too high, however, it's hard for your brain to tell if you’re awake or asleep, which may directly affect the quality of your sleep.

The temperature of your room can also affect your core temperature. In general, around 16 to 18 degrees Celsius is the ideal room temperature for sleeping. Why? Because, this range is what best suits your core during the middle of the night.2,3

A lower temperature also promotes more restful sleep by ensuring that your body doesn't warm up too early in the morning helping you to transition gently out of the deep sleep stage.

Essentially, this means that a bedroom that’s cool offers you far better conditions to get the best rest each night.

So, with the hot nights upon us, what can you do to create the optimal environment for sleep? Here are 16 ways to get help you get some quality shut-eye, even when it's stinking hot out there.

How to sleep on a hot night

Now that you understand why a cool room is better for sleeping, the most obvious solution is to blast the air-con all night long and sink into a deep and peaceful slumber. But just imagine the giant energy bill every month! Not to mention that it’s not too environmentally-friendly either. 

But don't sweat- there are other ways.

Here are some DIY tricks to keep you cool during the summer heat for a great night's sleep, without blowing the budget.

1. Open the windows

If your room is warmer than outside, leave the windows open at night to let in a fresh breeze. Night air tends to get cooler in the early hours. The fresh air can help keep the temperature down and stop your room from feeling stuffy.

2. Get a fan

Fans are generally cheaper to run than air-con. Have one on all night to keep the air gently moving. It can draw heat out of the room and even push it out the open window.

Get creative. Put a bowl of ice cubes in front of the fan. The breeze will slowly waft the melting cold vapour from the surface of the ice, generating a delicious, cooling mist.

3. Drink more water

Drink a glass of chilled water before bed to get your body hydrated and cool, and replenish water loss due to sweating.

4. Have a warm shower before bed4

If you're feeling hot before heading to bed, have a warm shower. Why not have a cold one? Because your body will hijack your efforts by quickly decreasing blood flow to your skin. A few minutes later when the blood flow starts up again, you’ll feel hot again. A warm shower will increase blood flow to your skin and increase heat loss from your body. Then you can slip between the sheets feeling clean and comfortable.

5. Sleep on ice

Ice, really? Yes! If you're 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. Or dig out your hot water bottle. Fill it with water and pop it in the freezer for a bed-friendly solution.

For more instant relief, put an ice pack on the pulse points on your wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles and even behind your knees. The cold will travel 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. Put it on your forehead or body. Just don't saturate the towel. You don’t want to soak your mattress and sheets!

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7. Less light, more darkness

All light bulbs give off heat which you don’t want when trying to get a good night's sleep. It stays lighter much later during summer, so take advantage and try to keep light usage to a minimum. Not only does this keep your room cooler, it’s easier to get to sleep if you reduce the lighting level for a while before bed.

8. Turn 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 aren't conducive to a good night's sleep. So put them away at least an hour before bed and let yourself drift off more peacefully.

9. Store those blankets

While blankets and a doona are great during the colder nights, keeping them on the bed simply out of habit 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 it cools down again.

10. Use breathable bed linen

Lightweight, good quality bed linen is breathable which means that it won't trap your body heat.  The less heat that gets trapped beneath your sheets, the easier it is to feel cool and comfortable as you drift off to sleep.

So save the polyester, silk and satin sheets for colder nights or special occasions. Try cotton, linen or bamboo fibres instead!

11. Freeze your sheets

Don’t knock it till you try it! Fold your sheets into a plastic bag and pop them in the freezer while you brush your teeth before bed. Don't leave them there too long, but long enough to cool them right down. Then put them onto your bed to give you temporary relief as you try and 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 helps your core reach the ideal temperatures for the best sleep.

13. Keep your distance

While it's comfortable to snuggle up to your partner on colder nights, when it's hot, getting too close will share body temperatures and hold the heat between you for much longer. So it’s harder for your temperatures to drop to the optimal point for a better sleep.

Keeping a bit further apart is better when you’re trying to keep cool.

14. Telling your pets: “off!”

Is your pet used to sharing your bed? The fewer bodies in the bedroom to heat it up, the better! Your dog or cat’s added heat can make it harder for you to cool to the right temperature for the best sleep.

15. Wear loose cotton nightwear

Loose, soft cotton pyjamas can help keep you cooler by dissipating the heat, just like cotton sheets do. They allow for air flow and breathability, while absorbing excess sweat from your skin.

16. Spread out

Sleep like a starfish! Stretch out across the bed with your arms and legs wide. It’s a really simple and easy way to keep your temperature down by increasing air circulation around your limbs and reducing sweating.

Do you use a CPAP Machine?

If you’re 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’re having difficulties dealing with excessive heat when it comes to your mask or the formation of condensation (known as ‘rainout'), call one of our sleep coaches who can help you find the right solution (1800 737 633).

For example, you could consider a CPAP mask which allows for better airflow, such as the ResMed AirTouch™ with a foam cushion and a humidifier that can control air temperature and moisture, or even the use of a mask-liner could release the pressure of the mask on your face.

Keeping cool during the summer months

It's well worth trying a few of the above tips to find the best solutions to manage your bedroom's temperature. 

The cooler your room is, the more it may help lower your core temperature, which signals your body to rest.

Are you still having problems sleeping?

In a world where it's all too easy to experience sleep deprivation, you should aim to get the most out of your sleep to help you stay healthy and happy each day.

If you’re experiencing problems sleeping, take our free online sleep assessment to help you better understand how to improve your sleep and your overall health.

The assessment asks you a series of simple questions and the results will be conveniently sent to you via email.

You can access our online sleep assessment here:

Take our free sleep assessment

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Citations

1
2

Source: WebMD. What happens to your body when you sleep? accessed 25 June 2019

3

Source: Sleep.org, The ideal temperature for sleep. accessed 25 June 2019.

4
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