Whether you're experiencing a heat wave or your A/C is on the fritz, here's how to get comfortable when it's too hot to sleep.

By Real Simple
July 19, 2019
Isadora Romero/Getty Images

Summer is here! The days are getting longer and the nights are getting shorter—especially if you have trouble sleeping. Getting proper shuteye is a challenge when you can't stop sweating. Whether you're in a room with poor ventilation, no air conditioning, or an HVAC system that isn't quite up to snuff, you might end up spending the night tossing and turning instead of dreaming. (Related: All the Products You Need for Better Sleep, According to a Sleep Snob)

But where exactly is your thermostat supposed to be? According to The National Sleep Foundation, the ideal temperature for a good night's rest is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this isn't always so easy to achieve during the summer.

If you're wondering what to do when it's too darn hot to sleep, it's just a matter of making some simple changes. From what you sleep on to what you sleep in, even making just a few minor adjustments can keep your body temperature from rising. While some of these changes may require a small investment, others cost very little or may even save you some cash in the long run.

Make Sure Your Air Conditioning Is in Good Repair

This seems like a no-brainer, but if your air conditioner isn't working properly, it's not going to cool your bedroom. If the A/C is on but the room still feels hot even if you've been running the air for a while, the fix is simple: You probably just need to change the air conditioning filter.

Changing the filter is easy and depending on the model of your air conditioner or HVAC system, you can probably change it yourself. But if you aren't sure, it's best to call a professional.

However, you shouldn't wait for the room to become uncomfortably hot or for the air conditioner to malfunction before changing the filter. This needs to be part of your regular home maintenance routine. For the most part, basic air filters should be changed every 90 days in a home that doesn't have pets or in a vacation home that doesn't have a large number of occupants coming and going. If there are pets, the filter should be changed every 60 days. Changing the filter can also save you money on repairs in the long term.

If changing the air filter doesn't cool down the temperature of the room, it's probably time to call an expert for help.

Consider Using a Box Fan

If your bedroom doesn't have an air conditioner, a box fan (Buy It, $30, amazon.com) won't be a substitute, but it can definitely help bring the temperature down. But that doesn't mean placing it next to your bed so it can just blow air on you. That will only recirculate the hot air and make things worse.

Place a box fan underneath an open window facing outwards so it removes the hot air from your bedroom, pushing it outside. If it's a cooler night, but the bedroom is still hot, you can also keep the box fan in the windowsill so it circulates cooler air from the outside in.

Buy a Memory Foam Mattress Topper

A quality mattress topper designed to keep you cool is a must for summer. In fact, buying one can be more effective than replacing your mattress. Swap it out seasonally, keeping your body temperature lower during the warmer months and warmer during the cooler months.

The Allswell 4-Inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper Infused With Graphite & Copper (Buy It, $159+, walmart.com) can be incredibly helpful. The graphite and copper gel layers absorb heat and transfer it away from the body, while the special cooling foam promotes airflow and wicks away moisture for a cooler night's sleep. (Related: Can a Specialty Mattress Actually Help You Sleep Better?)

Lay Your Head Down On a Cool Pillow

Pillows can trap heat and cause sweating. So get rid of those hot cotton pillows and choose pillows that are designed for cooling instead. The Therapedic Hypercool 5-Degree Pillow (Buy It, $60+, bedbathandbeyond.com) has been tested to be at least five degrees cooler than a regular pillow.

Buy a Lightweight Comforter

A heavy comforter on a hot night is just a no, so put away that heavy down and choose a lightweight blanket instead. The summer-weight Basic Beyond Lightweight Down Comforter (Buy It, $90+; amazon.com) is filled with 100 percent hypoallergenic ultra-soft white down. It can be used with your regular duvet or alone. The outside is made of a light microfiber, which is soft to the touch.

Another option is to skip the comforter altogether and sleep with a lightweight cotton throw instead. Tensira's Handwoven Solid Light Indigo Throw (Buy It, $98, pillowpia.com) is perfect to keep on your bed during the summer and then use as an extra blanket under your comforter during cold winter nights. Wrap yourself up in comfort without getting too sweaty.

Switch Up Your Sheets

Choosing sheets designed to keep you cool is ideal for this time of year. My Sheets Rock Regulator sheets (Buy It, $149, mysheetsrock.com) are made of 100 percent bamboo rayon engineered to be 50 percent less humid and three to four degrees cooler than cotton or polyester bedding. They also wick away moisture and help your body regulate temperature while you sleep.

Get Rid of Heavy Pajamas

Ditch the flannel and long-sleeve pajamas and choose loungewear made with cooling fabrics instead. Ably Apparel (Buy It, $24+, ablyapparel.com) has a variety of simple loungewear made of 100 percent cotton treated with Filium, which repels stains, liquids, and odors. This is ideal for sweaty sleepers, so you don't end up tossing and turning in a wet shirt.

Unplug Everything

When every single degree counts, it's best to unplug any appliances or devices you aren't using. Whether you're charging your laptop or leaving that extra lamp plugged in, it means a small amount of heat is being generated. Anything that uses electricity generates heat, even if it's turned off. So charge devices outside the bedroom and unplug anything you can.

Take a Cool Shower

Take a cool (not cold) shower right before bed to lower your body temperature. Sleep with wet hair, if possible—as the moisture evaporates, it will take some of the heat along with it. (Related: The Benefits of Cold Showers Will Make You Rethink Your Bathing Habits)

Remember, Heat Rises

If your bedroom is on the second floor and the room is feeling especially stifling, try sleeping downstairs where the temperature should be a few degrees cooler. Just remember to cover any windows so you're not woken up by the (hot) sun in the morning.

This story originally appeared on RealSimple.com by Amanda Lauren.


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