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To sleep well, the temperature in your bedroom or bed needs to be just right. Think Goldilocks. No too hot. Not too cold.
Most experts say that the ideal sleeping temperature is between 60 and 72 degrees for most people. If this seems a bit chilly, you are right. But a little chilly is good because a lowering of body temperature often induces sleep.
If the temperature is too high when you try to sleep, then things get more complicated because getting and staying cool is often harder than getting and staying warm. This is especially true, of course, if you don't have air conditioning or want to save energy by using your air conditioner less, or not at all, at night.
Below are nine ways to stay cool and comfortable at night
with little or no air conditioning.
Fan and Ice
Get Used To It
Cold Compress on Chest
Turn Off Heat Sources
Drink Cold Water Throughout Night
When a hot night keeps you from sleeping or sleeping well, try the fan and ice solution. There are a couple of ways to do this, so let's start with the best way.
Find a plastic container of some kind, such as an empty gallon bottle. Fill it with water about 75% full, put the lid or cap on and then freeze it. Then put the frozen gallon bottle right in front of a directional fan and turn the fan on. (A ceiling fan will not work as well.)
As you may have guessed, the air blowing from the fan will be cooled as it passes by the frozen container. For maximum cooling of your body, place the fan close to where you are sleeping and direct the fan toward you, keeping the frozen container between you and the fan.
If you don't prefer having the air blowing directly on you, then direct the fan elsewhere in the room, but be sure to keep the frozen container in front of it. This will eventually circulate the ice-cooled air to where you are sleeping. How long it will take for the container to thaw depends largely on how hot it is in the room, but it should last long enough to allow you to fall asleep comfortably.
Another way to use ice-cooled air to help you sleep better is to use (a few dozen) ice cubes. You will need a container, bowl or tray to place the ice and to collect the water as the ice melts. You should probably be able to find such a container in your kitchen.
Put the ice in the container and then place it right in front of the fan and turn the fan on. Just as with the frozen container, for maximum cooling of your body, place the fan close to where you are sleeping and direct the fan toward you, keeping the ice between you and the fan.
If you don't prefer having the air blowing directly on you, then direct the fan elsewhere in the room, but be sure to keep the ice in front of it. This will eventually circulate the ice-cooled air to where you are sleeping. How long it will take for the ice to melt depends largely on how hot it is in the room, but it should last long enough to allow you to fall asleep comfortably.
The ice cube method is not as good as the frozen container method for a few reasons.
First, with the frozen container method, you don't have to worry about collecting the melted ice. Second, the ice cube method will likely add to the humidity in the room because the ice and melted water are exposed to the air. However, the frozen container is sealed with its top or lid, which will not allow for significant evaporation. Third, ice cubes make noise when they melt by tumbling down on one another or onto the tray. This noise may wake you or keep you on edge.
When a hot night is keeping you from getting good sleep, remember this: The mind has tremendous power over the body.
Our thoughts, attitudes and beliefs can affect our physical state, for better or worse. For example, by thinking cool or cold thoughts when you are hot, you can actually make yourself more comfortable. And, by contrast, by focusing on how hot you are when you are hot, you can actually make yourself more uncomfortable.
Skeptical? The next time you are struggling to sleep because of heat, say the following passage a few times to yourself.
I'm so cold. The wind won't stop blowing snow in my face. The freezing temperature leaves my hands, feet, arms, legs and face feeling like thick blocks of ice. I can see my breath so clearly. A burst of frigid wind just blew up under my jacket causing me to gasp in shock. Numbness.
The sky is thick with icy clouds and I feel no warm sunlight. I only feel unending, merciless bitter cold that seems determined to rob me of the little warmth that I have left in my body. I would give anything--anything at all--to be warm for just one minute. I'm so cold.
You get the idea. (Just writing this made me cold.) You can make up your own passage if you wish. The key with using these kinds of thoughts effectively is to make them as specific as possible to paint a vivid picture in your mind. It may take some practice to get good at creating and using these cold thoughts, but the effort will likely result in better sleep on hot nights.
This is the solution for the tough people out there. If having to sleep in warm temperatures is more common than not for you, then you may just want to surrender to the heat. Instead of fighting the heat by using the solutions on this page, you can face the heat head on. By fully exposing yourself to the heat over a period of time when you try to sleep, your body will get used to the heat to to some extent.
In other words, your body will toughen against the heat, and you'll find that you can sleep better in it. How long it can take for a person to get used to the heat varies for each person. The young and healthy, of course, will likely adapt more quickly. Regardless of your age and health, however, expect to have at least a few nights of being uncomfortable before you begin to get used to the heat.
And, of course, there is a limit to how much heat you can get used to. Sleeping in temperatures above 80 degrees can be difficult for anyone, no matter how hardened to the heat one may be.
Evaporative cooling is not just a fancy scientific term. It can save you from misery on a hot night, allowing you to sleep better.
What is it? Evaporative cooling is a phenomenon in which evaporation of a liquid, typically into surrounding air, cools an object or a liquid in contact with it. For example, when our bodies sweat and then the sweat evaporates upon contact with air, we feel cooler because the heat needed for this evaporation is taken from our body.
It's important to remember that evaporative cooling cannot occur much, if at all, in high humidity because the air cannot take any more water.
On a hot night, you will often sweat a lot. To make sure that this sweating results in you being as cool as possible, you should have air circulation in the bedroom, either by using a fan or having a breeze coming in through the window.
Even if the air is warm it's important to do this because the air movement will cause your sweat to efficiently evaporate and cool your body as a result. The worse thing to do when you are hot is just lay there with no air circulation.
Sometimes, however, when it's really hot, sweating and air circulation are not enough to keep you comfortable and relaxed enough to sleep well. In these times, you need to create some additional evaporative cooling. To do this you will need, in addition to a fan or breeze from a window, a water adsorbent cloth (a medium-sized cotton towel is suitable) that is soaked with cool water. You don't want the cloth dripping wet, but you do want it saturated with water. Lie on the bed on your back and place the wet cloth on your chest area. Make sure the fan's air or breeze from the window can reach the cloth.
Because of evaporative cooling, the air blowing on the wet cloth will cool the cloth and your chest since it is in contact with it.
By having the cloth on your chest, you are cooling the blood that your heart is circulating all around your body, resulting in a cooler body, not just a cooler chest.
Hopefully, the evaporative cooling will make you comfortable enough that you fall asleep quickly. If you don't fall asleep quickly, keep in mind that when the water in the cloth has evaporated, you will need to wet it again. (How long it takes for the water in the cloth to evaporate depends on the strength of the air circulation and the humidity level in the room.)
Understanding a little about evaporative cooling and how to achieve it can make a big difference. It may just make the next hot night bearable and allow you to sleep better.
When you are lying in bed, place something cold on your chest.
Remember that your heart pumps blood around your body, so by keeping something cold on your chest, you can cool the blood as your heart pumps it out. For this reason, if you are going to place something cold anywhere on your body to help you cool down, it should be on your chest.
What exactly should you place on your chest? You could use a cold, wet cloth. And it will achieve maximum cooling power if air is blowing on the wet cloth because of evaporative cooling. Or you can fill a plastic bottle with water about 75% full and freeze it.
Placing this on your chest will feel quite cold, however. You can reduce the coldness somewhat by placing a cloth between you can the frozen bottle.
If you have incandescent lights, computers or a TV in your bedroom, or anything that gets warm when it is on, turn it off well before you try to go to sleep. This will give the room a chance to cool down as much as possible.
Incandescent lights give off heat as well as light. The higher the light bulb's wattage, the more heat it will give off. If you have just one or two high wattage incandescent lights on in your bedroom, this can increase room temperature as much as 5 degrees, perhaps more depending on the size of your room. If you must have light on in your bedroom when the weather is warm, consider using a compact fluorescent bulb. It gives off little heat.
Also be sure to close window blinds if the windows allows in direct sunlight. The direct sunlight will heat up whatever it comes into contact with, such as carpeting or furniture. These things will then radiate the heat they have absorbed for possibly hours after the sun has set, leaving your bedroom warmer than it needs to be.
Take a few sips of ice-cold water throughout the night. This will cool your core temperature leaving you more comfortable. (Do not, however, drink an ice-cold caffeinated beverage since this may keep you awake.)
Because cold air is denser than warm air, it sinks to near the floor or ground. Therefore, you may find that sleeping on the floor on a hot night is a few degrees cooler than sleeping in your bed which is higher up. Or for a more dramatic difference, if your bedroom in upstairs consider sleeping downstairs on a hot night.
Are you a hot sleeper? Do you have night sweats? Want to sleep cooler? The Bedfan® seems like a useful and intriguing product if you want to sleep cooler. This is the one solution I have not personally tried, but the fan appears to have many satisfied customers. You can learn more at www.bedfan.com.
From their website:
The Bedfan® will help you sleep cool and stop night sweats. The Bedfan® cooling system is designed to remove body heat that causes night sweats while you are sleeping. At the same time helping to keep your body cool so that night sweats don't have a chance to start. The Bedfan® will instantly cool you down for a peaceful nights sleep.
The Bedfan® has a fully adjustable speed dial that you can place right under your pillow. This allows you to find your own personal cool zone without ever having to leave the comfort of your bed. Turn it low for a little relief or turn it all the way up for a super cooling effect. And dont worry .you can find your cool zone where night sweats will no longer exist, without freezing out your bed partner, because the cooling breeze will only surround you!
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