How to Sleep When It’s Hot Out
June 21st marks the official first day of summer, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, summer 2022 will be hotter than usual across the U.S. The New York Times reported that almost all the lower 48 states will experience higher than average temperatures in June, July, and August. If you live out West, you can also expect lower precipitation.
If you have a tendency to sleep hot, this summer may present a challenge. But knowing what you’re up against, you can take preemptive action to cool down your bedroom and bed for better rest.
To help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and avoid night sweats during the summer heat, you should take precautions in four areas: your bedroom environment, your sleep setup, your sleepwear, and your nighttime routine.
1. Your Sleep Environment
Keeping your bedroom at a cool, consistent temperature is hard work and will likely cause a spike in your electric bill. But whether you have central air, A.C. units, or rely on fans, you can lower the electric burden by keeping the cool air in. We recommend investing in quality blackout curtains and keeping them closed during the day.
What Temperature Should You Sleep at in Summer?
Sleep health experts recommend keeping your bedroom between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. If you tend to sleep hot, aim for the lower end of this range during the summer months.
How to Ventilate Your Bedroom
If you use fans to keep your bedroom cool, you’ll want to create a cross breeze to help you sleep. If you can, place an inward-facing box fan in one window and an outward-facing box fan in another window across the room. Otherwise, opt for rotating fans and make use of your ceiling fan if your room has one.
Does Putting Ice in Front of a Fan Work?
If you’ve ever searched for DIY ways to keep your house cool, you’ve likely encountered the fan and ice trick. But does putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan really work as a homemade air conditioner? We’ve seen mixed reviews. While some hot sleepers swear by it, others say it doesn’t do much. However, this tactic takes minimal effort, so it may be worth a try.
2. Your Bed Setup
Keeping your bedroom cool is critical to getting quality sleep in summer, but don’t overlook the importance of your sleep setup. A lot of common mattress and bedding materials can trap heat, adding insult to injury on hot summer nights.
Cooling Mattresses and Mattress Toppers
When it comes to mattresses and mattress toppers, memory foam is the number-one culprit for trapping heat. To make memory foam flexible and adaptable, manufacturers use viscoelastic chemical additives. These heat-sensitive chemicals give memory foam its “memory” but trap heat in the process. And, because memory foam softens with heat, your mattress may not feel as firm and supportive as you need during the summer months.
If you want a foam mattress or mattress topper that keeps cool and consistently firm year-round, stay away from memory foam. Instead, opt for breathable, temperature-neutral materials free from viscoelastic chemicals like Nolah AirFoam™ and natural latex. Innerspring mattresses also sleep cooler than memory foam, thanks to their ventilated spring construction.
You can also look for foam mattresses infused with natural coolants or made with additional cooling materials and covers. For example, Nolah’s Talalay latex hybrid, the Nolah Natural, contains temperature-regulating New Zealand wool and a moisture-wicking organic cotton cover. Meanwhile, our Nolah Evolution foam hybrid uses graphite-infused AirFoamICE™, which actively pulls heat away from your body.
Cooling Sheets and Other Bedding
For bedding, the best summer materials are lightweight, breathable, and naturally moisture-wicking. Materials with these qualities allow uninhibited airflow and keep perspiration at bay. You can learn more about cooling fabrics and how they work in our Best Cooling Sheets for Hot Sleepers blog. Spoiler alert: we recommend bamboo bed sheets in the summer or other temperature-regulating options like linen, eucalyptus, organic cotton, and silk.
As with mattresses and mattress toppers, memory foam pillows trap heat and lose firmness in the summer. If you want a contouring pillow that remains cool and supportive, choose one made with temperature-neutral foam like natural latex or AirFoam™. For those who prefer less contouring, down pillows make a good choice.
Nolah also offers an adjustable shredded foam option, the Nolah Squishy Pillow. The shredded foam and bamboo cover allow easy airflow, keeping the pillow fresh and ventilated.
3. Your Clothing (Or Lack Thereof)
On hot summer nights, thick or tight clothing can cause sweating or make you feel suffocated under the covers. Many people sleep nude or partially nude in the summer to keep cool. If you prefer more coverage, choose your pajamas carefully.
We suggest lightweight, loose-fitting clothes made with the same temperature-regulating materials we recommend for bed sheets: bamboo, linen, organic cotton, and similar moisture-wicking fabrics. If you sweat at night, these materials will wick away the moisture for fast evaporation, keeping you cool and dry.
4. Before Bed
You can also prevent overheating and night sweats with healthy sleep hygiene and nighttime habits. Avoid activities that elevate your heart rate, raise your core temperature, or make your body work harder while you sleep. For example, avoid eating big meals or consuming alcohol before bed.
Following your circadian rhythm, your body temperature will naturally drop when it’s time for sleep. You can help the process by practicing mind-and-body-relaxing activities before bed. Meditation, reading, and light stretching are great ways to calm yourself before bedtime, supporting your natural sleep-wake cycle. It may sound counterintuitive, but studies show that taking a warm bath 90 minutes before bed can also help lower your body temperature and help you fall asleep fast.
Your Coolest Summer Yet
The forecast for a hot summer doesn’t mean you have to struggle for sleep! With these tips and tricks, you can keep cool all night, every night.