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When it's very hot out and you do not have air conditioning, it's difficult to fall asleep. You can toss and turn to no avail. All this movement will make you even hotter than you already are, but there are ways to get cool and remain cool long enough for you to fall asleep.
Methods Which Mimic Air Conditioning
- Use a fan and ice to mimic air conditioning. Purchase a commercial bag of ice cubes. Empty the entire bag into a wide, shallow container (to contain the water as the ice melts) such as a roasting pan. Place the container of ice right in front of the fan (between the fan and you), at the level of the top of the bed. The ice-cooled air will be noticeably cooler than the room air for the amount of time it takes for the ice to melt -- which is as long as it should take for you to fall asleep!
- Try the ice towel method. Hang a wet towel holding ice cubes from two chairs. Point a fan at the towel and at you in bed. The melting ice will wet and chill the towel and the fan will blow that cold air on you. Place a container under the towel to catch the melting ice water. You can use a thread to connect the bottom of the towel with the container to avoid the annoying dripping sound.
Props to Cool the Bed
- Consider using the "Egyptian Method": wet a sheet or bath towel that is large enough to cover you with cool or cold water, and wring it or run it through the spin cycle on a washing machine until the sheet is quite damp but not dripping wet. You can also use a spray bottle of water to spray the top sheet until it is damp but not soaking. Place the dry towel or sheet on your bed underneath your body and use the wet sheet as your blanket. The damp blanket will keep you cool and if you add a fan at the foot of your bed the cooling effect is even greater. Or, during an extreme heat wave, take a light t-shirt, wet it, wring it out and wear it. Evaporation from the shirt will help to keep you cool enough to sleep for a few hours. This is a very simple and environment friendly method of staying cool.
- Take a pair of cotton socks, rinse them in cold water, wring them until they are damp and put them on. Cooling your feet lowers the overall temperature of your skin and body.
- Try buckwheat pillows or futons. These don't retain body heat and feel cool all night long.
- Get a few blocks of "blue ice," normally sold in supermarkets. This is a rectangular plastic block containing a non-toxic chemical that freezes at lower temperatures than ice, and stays cold longer. If possible, get the larger blocks. Freeze them in the freezer during the day and take them to bed with you at night. They don't get damp when they melt -- the chemical stays inside. Put each block inside a sock or something, so it won't feel so cold, and it will melt more slowly. If you feel warm, put a hand or foot on a block, or curl up next to a few. You'll soon feel cooler.
- Dampen a hand towel and lie in bed with it on your forehead. Turn it over and dampen again when needed.
- Bring a soft ice pack to bed You can buy "sinus packs" or "thermal sleeves" in most grocery stores. These are much softer than the blue ice compresses and don't get quite as cold (the blue gel ones can give you ice-burn). Slip a cold sinus pack under your neck or a cold thermal sleeve over your arm. Cooling down the back of your neck helps cool the rest of your body down as well.
- Chill your pillowcase. Put your sheets,blanket,and pillowcases into freezer bags and put in the freezer all day. This may also help you fall asleep faster, further reducing your exposure to the uncomfortable heat.
- Make a Rice Sock and place it in the freezer and leave it there for at least two hours. When you turn in, bring the bag with you to use as a cool compress. Try placing it under your pillow so it's nice and cool when you flip it over. You can also place it within the pillow cover or inside your pillow if it has a zippered opening.
- Make a Cold pack. Place some GREEN dish soap in a sealable bag style container. Only fill approximately 1/4 of the bag space with soap,(the green tends to work much better) and place it in the freezer. The soap doesn't harden but holds the cold temperature longer than ice and/or the blue ice containers. Once you are ready to use, place in a pillow case or fold in a towel. This allows several options for placement. Because the pack is not solid, it allows for versatility and comfort. This can also be used as an "Ice Pack" for muscle aches and pains. This is a much cheaper option to the store bought "Soft Packs" and works in the same way.
Cool Sleeping Positions
- Sleep in a 'spread eagle' position, so heat doesn't gather around you and think cool thoughts.
- Sleep nude Note that many people disagree about the effectiveness of this method. Some claim it cools you down. Others claim that it makes your sweat stay on you or your bedsheets and makes you less comfortable.
- Sleep downstairs. Warm air rises, so it is cooler downstairs.
Pre-Bedtime Routines to Lower Body Temperatures
- Take a cool shower, bath, or wipe your body down with a cool wash cloth. Without fully drying yourself, hop into bed, and let the air slowly dry you. This will keep you cool for a long time, allowing you to fall asleep. If a shower or bath is not an option, splash cool water on your head, and soak your hands and feet in cool water if possible. Your head, hands and feet are your "radiators" and you'll feel cooler faster by focusing on those areas. Note that this method is temporary, and more psychologically sound than physiologically accurate, as a cold shower will close your body's pores, which in the long run will heat your body. Lots of people develop rashes due to heat. Apply talcum powder all over the body after shower to keep body cool and to avoid rashes. There are some special talcum powders available such as Shower To Shower or a prickly heat powder.
- Wet your face. Use a damp cloth or towel to wet your face or arms. Stand in front of a fan, or blowing air(while you are still damp). This methods works quickly and easily! It acts like your natural sweat but on a quicker and larger scale.
- Run your wrists under the cold tap. Your wrists and the inside of your arm are areas where your blood stream flows closest to the surface of your body, running them under cold water for a minute or so will cool your blood down, making your whole body cooler.
This video will give you some extra tips on how to induce a deep sleep so that even on a hot night you are able to sleep comfortably.
- Get a fan and place it near your bed. Then take some clothes pins and pin your sheet around all edges of the fan. Make sure that the rest of the sheet is tucked in around the bed and under your head/pillow. Its like sleeping in an air conditioned bubble. Works great!
- Keep a blue ice block nearby. Every now and then touch it with the palm of your hand and touch your body with your cold hands!
- Keep a glass of ice cold water close to your bed so that in the event that you wake up hot and uncomfortable, you can easily cool off again without having to get up.
- The type of material that you sleep in and on will affect how hot you get. Porous materials breathe better and will help you to avoid getting sticky. A light cotton shirt and light cotton shorts work well. Sleeping naked can actually make you even more hot since it doesn't allow moisture to evaporate between your body and the sleeping surface; however, if you don't cover yourself with heavy blankets and are absolutely sure no one who you wouldn't want to see you nude will walk in at some point in the night or in the morning, you can sleep without clothes and have decent results. Keep in mind, though, this might not always help.
- When sleeping in a hammock, air flows over your whole body. A bed absorbs your body heat and keeps you hot. Get out that hammock you bought in Cancun and try sleeping in it with a fan blowing on you.
- If you have a water bed, turn the heater on the water bed way down. Lie down on the surface of the water bed. Even if it's 85°F (29°C), your body is 98°F (37°C), and the heat transfer rate for direct contact is about 100 times larger than for convection. It can make you so cold you may shiver. Be aware that temperatures set below 85°F can lead to hypothermia with prolonged contact.
- Keep the door to your bedroom open, so that there is proper air circulation from other rooms. Keep in mind that this may not improve your condition if your house, apartment, etc. is the same temperature or hotter than your bedroom.
- Partially fill a plastic bottle with water and freeze it. Put it in front of a fan; it'll give the same effect, but is less likely to spill.
- If you have curtains made from a light material, like muslin or net, soak them with water (or put them through the washing machine and rehang them). Any breeze at all that blows through your window will immediately be vastly cooler.
- Still another option is to get a large powerful fan, such as one at least 16" in diameter and put it facing outward in a window in another room than the one you are sleeping in. Then, close all other windows in the house except the one the fan is in, and where people are sleeping near. The fan will exhaust hot air out of the house or apartment and create a vacuum which will pull in the cooler night air from the outside through the open windows where people are sleeping. Prop the doors in the bedroom(s) somewhat next to yours open, to create a path for air to migrate. This is much more effective than having a loud fan blowing the same hot room-temperature air back at you. It also does not suck small bugs through the screen like having the fan pointed inward sometimes does. This, of course, assumes it is nighttime, and that it has become significantly cooler outside than during the day, when your home warmed up. If you have a lot of people sleeping or you want more airflow, get a more powerful fan, or put another exhaust fan facing another open window.
- If you have a hatch to the loft or attic, leave it open at night. That will give the heat trapped in the house somewhere to escape to, since hot air rises.
- If you live in a less humid climate, you can usually find small, portable swamp coolers at hardware stores for about $100. These need air flow. Place one in front of a window, and place a fan in the doorway, blowing air out of the room.
- Lightly mist a top sheet, and place it in a plastic bag in the freezer. Pull it out just before you're ready to sleep. It'll keep you cool enough to fall asleep.
- Sleep with your feet out from under the sheets, body heat will escape via your feet.
- Use a smaller, firmer pillow, to allow more air circulation around your head, which is the hottest part of your body. An extreme option would be one of those African "pillows" that are unpadded carved wood braces that hold the head. A more comfortable choice is a cool and relaxing smelling Japanese-style Jasmine and Buckwheat pillow.
- Lean against or lie on a dry, smooth surface. Drywall walls and tile or concrete floors are excellent examples. Even if they are only a few degrees cooler than your body they will "pull" the heat from your body, and have the added benefit that if you stay there long enough to heat the immediate area up, there's usually another space you can move to that is cool.
- Sleeping on or as close to the floor will help, especially if the floor is tile or concrete (see above) and there's very little between you and the floor (a folded blanket and a pillow, for example). However, sleeping on the floor isn't very comfortable; it may be advantageous to sleep on the floor at first, and sleep in your regular bed if you wake up stiff, since you'll be close to sleep already and hopefully the temperature will have dropped a bit as you slept.
- For cooling, fill a spray bottle with cool water. Spritz behind your knees, on your feet, and anywhere that's sweaty. Now, go get in front of a fan!
- Try sleeping on your side to help keep your body cooler.
- Use a cold compress or ice bag on the neck or between the thighs to cool the blood in major veins, but beware of hypothermia. You can keep cooling the compress by waving and flapping it about; eventually it will dry out and you will have to re-soak it, but by then you might be asleep. The combination of compress and fan is easy and practically fool-proof.
- Remember, you lose heat quickest through your extremities, such as your feet. So on very hot nights, remember to not wear any socks, it will make you considerably cooler. You also lose heat from your head, so keep your hair wet.
- Place a fan at the foot of your bed, and stretch the top sheet over the top of the fan. The air will blow in between the sheets and lift up the top-sheet a bit. Looks like the scene from Ghost Busters with the Key master and Gatekeeper, but keeps you very cool!
- Fill a hot water bottle with cold water from the fridge and put it on your ankles and feet - it works!
- Place your wrists under the cold tap for about 30 seconds. The blood that flows near the surface of the skin will cool and it will make you feel cool. Alternatively, get a wristband and drench it with water. This will also have the same effect.
- For all of the evaporating methods (damp whatever), air circulation is needed. Just leaving a window open is good enough. The air will otherwise soak up all the moisture it can hold and you'll stop cooling.
- Acclimating yourself to warmer weather is much better (and better for you) than running the A/C all the time.
- Try to acclimate yourself to an even warmer climate than your bed just before going to sleep. For instance, hang out in your warmer, less ventilated living room or attic just before retiring to your cooler bedroom.
- If you are used to sleeping on the floor (over a bed sheet),you can cool off the floor by sweeping the sleep area with a wet cloth, and allowing it to dry first under fan's air draft.
- A simpler way to cool your room could be to hang your usual wet clothes for drying around you in hangers over a rope. Air from the fan dries them, in the process cools the air around you.
- In some places in North India, during extreme summers, people used to pour water on the floor above the ceiling (to prevent heat from radiating down to where they sleep). Similarly they wash the external walls with a bucket full of water. Some will be absorbed, while some runs off taking the heat along with it. Cool walls leads to cooler rooms.
- Move to the basement or to the main floor. Heat rising to your upper floors will always be warmer than your main or basement levels. Similarly if in a bunk bed, consider switching from a top bunk to a lower bunk.
- Remember, your nerve endings are in your toes and fingers, cool these, and you will feel very cool all over quickly!
- The more you stay indoors with air conditioning during the hot season, the more you'll suffer from the heat. Your body "learns" to perspire by perspiring often, and your brain "learns" to be more comfortable in hot weather. Try taking a daily brisk walk in warm weather, for at least half an hour. As you become accustomed to this, try your walk during warmer parts of the day. After awhile, you'll start to sweat heavily every time you walk -- that's a sign of success. You'll also notice that being warm doesn't seem so unpleasant after awhile. Naturally, don't overdo it. Always have your medical well being in mind, drink plenty of water, get extra salt if you sweat a lot, and take precautions against heatstroke.
- A temporary method would be to flip your pillow over to the other side. It is colder than the side you have been sleeping on and will stay that way for a few minutes. When it starts to get warm again, flip it back over.
- Get a head band wet. Then, wring it out and wear it to bed.
- Do not consume any caffeinated beverages before trying to sleep, your increased heart rate will make you hotter and more susceptible to the heat.
- A really good tip is to buy some rubbing alcohol, spearmint scented if you can, and mix it in a spray bottle with water. Use a 1:1 ratio. Spritz it on yourself when you are warm. The rubbing alcohol will evaporate quickly taking your body heat away and you will feel cool.
- If you have long hair, wet it in the sink before you go to bed. If you put it up in a braid or bun, it can keep you cool for several hours.
- If you have a fan to cool you down and the noise it makes keeps you awake, try to set it to high (causing it to make more noise then medium or low) about 10 minutes before going to bed. Keep it on high while you get ready for bed and make sure you can hear it. You will get used to that sound and when you set it to medium or low, it will seem more quiet.
- For some people, taking your mind off the heat (for example watching television or reading a book) can sometimes help you ignore the heat.
- Avoid spicy foods an hour before going to bed.
- Avoid hot foods such as soup, hot cocoa, and the like.
- Spending lots of time in the direct draft of a fan can cause severe dehydration.
- A bath or shower that is very cold might not be suitable for people who have various medical conditions. To be safe, take a cool or slightly warm shower.
- Lowering the temperature of a water bed can cause severe hypothermia.
- Lowering the temperature of a water bed may make it colder than the room temperature. When that happens, the humidity in the air will begin to condense into water on the plastic. Water then soaks the foam layer and combined with dead skin cells makes a great medium for mold, especially when, months later, you turn up the heat for the winter. It is recommended that you fold back the top foam mattress layer if you want to use the cold bladder as a giant ice pack, then add some sheet to soak up the condensed sweat next to the plastic. Then wash the sheets.
- Be careful that you keep the fan and its cord at a higher level than the melting ice water—you don't want to cause an electric accident.
- Try not to do any physical activity at least 1 hour before you head off to bed, as this will make your blood pump fast, and in turn make it difficult to sleep.
- Wipe off the fan before use and also do not place the fan extremely close to your face. If a dirty fan is near your face, this may cause sinus colds in the morning because of the dust particles.
- When blowing the cold ice with a fan, be sure the fan doesn't fall into the melted ice because it could cause an electrical shock.
- Never fall asleep in the bath as you may drown or die from hypothermia.
Things You'll Need
- Bag of ice cubes
- Shallow container
- Salt water
- Blanket or Sheet
- Possibly damp shirts or socks
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