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12 Tricks to Sleep in the Heat (Without AC)

When summer comes to mind, we almost always focus on picnics, days lounging on the beach, and tasty iced drinks. But hot weather has a gnarly side too. We’re talking about the real dog days of summer, when intense heat and humidity make it impossible to sit comfortably, let alone sleep through the night.

The obvious solution for cool, calm, and REM-ful sleeping is an air conditioner: These modern gizmos can keep a bedroom at the optimum sleep temperature (roughly between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit), plus provide some nice white noise to boot. But even small window units use up tons of energy and jack up monthly electric bills. So what’s an environmentally-responsible, budget-conscious sleeper to do?

Living through a hot summer without A/C seems impossible but, hey, our grandparents did it all the time! Turns out, they learned a few things in the process. Read on for some tried and true DIY strategies for staying cool on hot nights.

Choose Cotton

Save the ooh-la-la satin, silk, or polyester sheets for cooler nights. Light-colored bed linens made of lightweight cotton (Egyptian or otherwise) are breathable and excellent for promoting ventilation and airflow in the bedroom.

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Step Away from the Stove

Summer is not the time to whip up a piping hot casserole or roast chicken. Instead, chow down on cool, room-temperature dishes (salads are clutch) to avoid generating any more heat in the house. If hot food is in order, fire up the grill instead of turning on the oven. And swap big meals for smaller, lighter dinners that are easier to metabolize. The body produces more heat after you scarf down a huge steak than it does after a platter of fruits, veggies, and legumes.

Pamper Your Pulses

Need to cool down, stat? To chill out super-fast, apply ice packs or cold compresses to pulse points at the wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles, and behind the knees.

Get Loose

Less is definitely more when it comes to summertime jammies. Pick a loose, soft cotton shirt and shorts or underwear. Going full nudie during a heat wave is (unsurprisingly) controversial. Some people believe it helps keep them cool, while others claim going au natural means sweat stays on the body instead of being wicked away by fabric. We’re going to chalk this one up to personal preference.

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Be Creative

If you thought fans are just for blowing hot air around, think again! Point box fans out the windows so they push hot air out, and adjust ceiling fan settings so the blades run counter-clockwise, pulling hot air up and out instead of just twirling it around the room.

Fill Up the Tank

Get a leg up on hydration by drinking a glass of water before bed. Tossing and turning and sweating at night can result in dehydration, so get some H20 in the tank beforehand. (Pro tip: Just eight ounces will do the trick, unless you’re really into those 3 a.m. bathroom runs).

Get Low

Hot air rises, so set up your bed, hammock, or cot as close to the ground as possible to beat the heat. In a one-story home, that means hauling the mattress down from a sleeping loft or high bed and putting it on the floor. If you live in a multi-floor house or apartment, sleep on the ground floor or in the basement instead of an upper story.

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Cool Off

A cold shower takes on a whole new meaning come summertime. Rinsing off under a stream of tepid H20 brings down the core body temperature and rinses off sweat (ick) so you can hit the hay feeling cool and clean.

Encourage Cold Feet

Those 10 little piggies are pretty sensitive to temperature because there are lots of pulse points in the feet and ankles. Cool down the whole body by dunking (clean!) feet in cold water before hitting the hay. Better yet, keep a bucket of water near the bed and dip feet whenever you’re feeling hot throughout the night.

Hog the Bed

Sleeping alone (another good way to stay cool) has its perks, including plenty of space to stretch out. Snoozing in spread eagle position (i.e. with arms and legs not touching each other) is best for reducing body heat and letting air circulate around the body. Hit the hay in this sleep position to keep limbs from getting crazy sweaty.

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Sleep in a Hammock

Feeling ambitious (or just really, really hot)? Rig up a hammock or set up a simple cot. Both types of beds are suspended on all sides, which increases airflow.

Camp at Home

Got access to a safe outdoor space like a roof, courtyard, or backyard? Practice those camping skills (and stay cooler) by pitching a tent and sleeping al fresco.

Want more foolproof ways to stay cool in bed this summer? Check out the complete list on!