Cool ideas for hot weather sleep

A woman and a little girl sleep on a rug in front of an electric fan.

Having trouble sleeping in the heat? You’ll find a confusing wealth of information online – so we’ve reduced advice into the most effective tips, thanks to Thye Schuyler, MD, medical director of Salem Health Sleep Center.

  • Find a cave! Seriously, your sleeping area should be quiet and dark. Consider moving your “cave” to the basement (hot air rises) or north side of your house. Or, try sleeping closer to the floor – or if your body can handle the gentle curve, on a hammock, which allows air to circulate all around you.
  • Keep it dark: Cover your windows early in the afternoon to keep your room from heating up. Keep the lights off.
  • Cool the air: If you don’t have air conditioning, open a window at night, but close it during the day. A window fan turned on in the evening can suck cooler air from the outside; if it’s too noisy, remember to turn it on early in the evening and turn it off as you turn in.
  • Don’t exercise close to bedtime: That’s a good rule for better sleeping in general. 
  • Take a cool (not cold) shower: Shower just before bed; this helps lower your core body temperature; no need for a “cold shower.”
  • Make a mist: Help your body release heat by spritzing your face and body with a spray mister of water. As water evaporates, it cools your skin and blood circulating beneath. Keep it near your bed.
  • Cool your blankets: Keep blankets handy, but start with cotton sheets. Consider cooling your pillows for a few minutes in the fridge or freezer and pull them out just before bed. You may have to eat the ice cream first, to make room. (Well, maybe not; sugar isn’t good for sleeping.)
  • Speaking of pillows: The Sleep Center recommends pillows, and there are many brands on the market to explore. Look for “stay cool pillows.”
  • If you wake up hot: Flip your pillow over. You can also reduce body heat by pulling the sheet off your hands and feet. Cool yourself with another spritz from your spray mister.

Worried about getting enough sleep in general?

If you’re concerned about having sleep apnea, getting enough sleep, or have questions about medicines vs. “natural remedies,” contact Salem Health Sleep Center. Dr. Schuyler’s team specializes in customizing sleep plans for those who struggle with getting enough sleep.

“We focus on natural solutions, not just prescribing sleeping medications, a last resort,” he said, noting each patient is evaluated, which often involves an over-night sleep study using the latest monitoring technology.

Contact the Salem Health Sleep Center:

Salem Hospital

Building C, Suite 4030