15 Feb 2018

Lying in Bed This Summer: 16 Ways to Sleep Well when It’s Hot

It’s official: the hot summer months have set in. The days are longer, and with both the mornings and evenings raising the mercury quickly, we are wearing less to bed and kicking off the sheets to keep cool.

Everyone knows Australia’s well-deserved reputation for its warm sun and balmy days, even during winter, and while it’s great for our enjoyable beach culture, it can make sleeping difficult.

We’ve all experienced those unavoidable nights where we find ourselves tossing and turning amongst the pillows, with sweat dampened sheets clinging to our skin. It’s an awful experience! 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 of 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.

Quality sleep is critical to our ongoing health and wellbeing, which means it’s important to get the conditions right.

To assist you, we have compiled this blog to provide you with more information and some handy tips to keep your cool and rest easier.

What happens to our body temperature during the hours of sleep?

ResSleep_SummerSleep3.jpg

Room and body temperature significantly impact our sleep, so getting this right is important.

When we 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.

Therefore, darker, quieter and cooler rooms create more ideal conditions for getting the best rest each night.So, with the warmer temperatures, what should we be doing to sleep in optimal conditions to get the most out of our dreaming hours? Here are some tips to be more proactive and get some quality shuteye.

16 tips to keep the ideal room temperature

ResSleep_SummerSleep2.jpg

Now that we know we have to keep our bedrooms cooler to encourage our core temperatures to reach that optimal state, the most obvious solution is to turn our air conditioning on at 18 degrees all night long, lay down and fall into a deep and peaceful slumber. 

However, this doesn’t bode well for your energy bill every month, and isn’t the most environmentally responsible either! So how do we cool down a room without AC? It's actually easier than you think, and can mean the difference between a sleepless night in a makeshift sauna, and some blissful ZZZs.

So how do we keep our rooms at the optimal temperature for a great night’s sleep, without blowing the budget? Here are some DIY tricks to help you. 

01openwindow.png(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.

02Blankets.png(2) Avoid 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.

03BedLinen.png(3) Buy 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!

04Freeze.png(4) Freeze 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.

05Mattress.png(5) Invest in a good mattress

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.

 
06Snuggle.png(6) Anti-snuggle zone

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.

07Pets.png(7) Keep pets off the bed

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.

08Hydration.png(8) Stay Hydrated

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.

09ColdShower.png(9) Have a 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.

10ColdCompress.png(10) Cold Compress Comfort

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!

11Fan.png(11) The good old 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 (from tip one).

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.

12DampTowel.png(12) The damp towel

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.  

13Pajamas.png(13) Loosen those pyjamas

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.

14Lights.png(14) Turn off the lights

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, Difficulty sleeping: Why darkness matters.

15Devices.png(15) Unplug before bed

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.

16BodyPosition.png(16) Body position

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.

 

Using a CPAP machine

If you use a CPAP device during a hot night, this can also present a bit of an additional challenge due to the mask resting on your face – but it’s still easy to manage.

All of the above tips can be tried and tested while using your CPAP device to discover what works 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.

airtouch-1.jpg

For example, you may need to consider a more accommodating mask such as the ResMed Air Touch with breathable foam cushion, which allows for better airflow, 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 summer months

ResSleep_SummerSleep4.jpg

It’s important to remember 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.

Learn how to improve your overall sleep

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.

At ResSleep, we have created a free eBook available to download right now, called the 8 Ways To Sleep Better Tonight, which explains the eight best ways to improve your sleep in order to get the best rest out of every night.

Download ResSleep’s free eBook, 8 Ways To Sleep Better Tonight now.

Understanding Your Sleep - ResSleep

References:

  1. Health Direct, Australia. ‘The Stages Of Sleep’. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/stages-of-sleep. Accessed 10 February, 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 10 February, 2018.

  3. Sleep.org. ‘The Ideal Temperature For Sleep’. https://sleep.org/articles/temperature-for-sleep/. Accessed 10 February, 2018.