The heat doesn’t seem to be letting up, and for those of us without air conditioning, staying cool and comfortable through the night is a constant struggle.
As anybody who’s spent a summer in Australia will tell you, getting to sleep in the heat is no picnic.
That’s a consequence of your body’s natural sleep cycle. As bedtime approaches, your core temperature naturally drops and remains lowered throughout the time you’re asleep.
A cooler bedroom—ideally around 18 degrees celsius—helps facilitate this temperature drop. If your sleep environment is much hotter than 18 degrees, you’re more likely to have trouble falling and staying asleep.
To make matters worse, some studies show that sleep deprivation disrupts your body’s ability to regulate its temperature in waking hours. How’s that for a double whammy?
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make your sleep environment more comfortable, even if you don’t have air conditioning.
Obviously, a fan can is a solid first line of defense against the heat. Investing in a quiet fan with multiple settings is worth the boon to your sleep. Another helpful tool is a dehumidifier. High humidity in a room will contribute to your sense of discomfort since it slows the evaporation of sweat from your skin.
Next, make sure to keep your blinds closed during the day. As beautiful as a sun-drenched room is, the buildup of heat will make itself known at night. "Blackout" curtain fabric more or less completely blocks the sun’s rays and is particularly useful for keeping a room cool.
No matter how hot a room is, some people have trouble getting to sleep without a cover on. If that sounds like you, make sure your sheets are made from breathable fabric like cotton or hemp. Even a thin polyester sheet will trap heat and contribute to your summer heat woes.
Lastly, keep in mind that heat rises, so if you have access to a lower floor of your home (or better, a basement), consider relocating there on particularly hot nights.
With these strategies under your belt, you’re bound to be a better-rested version of yourself. Remember to take particular care of your home sleep environment if you have a newborn, since a baby’s thermoregulation is not nearly as efficient as an adult’s, making overheating that much more likely and dangerous.