The summer is perfect for family barbecues, beach swims and getting your needed vitamin D, but it can be a challenging season for one important thing — sleep.
Trying to doze off through heat and humidity is not always as simple as just closing your eyes and drifting into a peaceful sleep. If you’re anything like me, humidity is worse for sleep than having one too many coffees during the day and more frustrating too.
I find myself tossing and turning, working up even more heat getting angry at the fact it’s too hot in my room to get comfortable. And before I know it, I’ve wasted valuable sleep hours just lying there sweating.
“Sleep is a vital function of our day-to-day lives and while it is often difficult, it is important that your sleep is continuous and uninterrupted,” says licensed physical therapist Dr. Scott Weiss, D.P.T., A.T.C., C.S.C.S., F.A.C.S.M.
Without adequate sleep, Weiss says issues like irritability, anxiety and metabolism problems can quickly pop up causing a range of potential health issues. And with kids, work and just life in general causing enough stress and anxiety, finding ways to get more rest is important.
The ideal sleep temperature
“To sleep well, you should have your thermostat set between 67 and 68 degrees,” advises sleep environmentalist and author Jennifer Adams. Adding, she says, “If your body temperature is cooler, it’s not just easier to fall asleep, but to stay asleep.”
With temperatures soaring through the summer months, here are four ways to optimize your much-needed sleep despite the heat (since keeping the thermostat in the 60s isn’t easy on the power bill).
1. Make your fan work better with a wet washcloth.
If you’ve ever tried to sleep in a humid room, you’ll know that a fan blowing around stale hot air is kind of pointless, but there is a way to make it better. “Placing ice or a wet towel in the line of the fan will cool the room temperature,” notes Weiss and in doing so, your fan will actually serve a purpose again to cool you down.
There are easy-to-follow tutorials on YouTube, which will walk you through turning your typical fan into an evaporate air cooler so you can try to catch those 8-hours of rest. Or, pick up a misting fan that has a compartment for you to fill with cool water and will mist it into the air cooling you down.
2. Wear a damp T-shirt to bed.
If the wet washcloth and fan isn’t helping you fall into dream land, sleep wet. “Wear dri-fit shorts or Ts, or even damp T-shirts or socks because the evaporation of the water will cool the body,” offers Weiss. You you don’t want your T-shirt or socks to be soaking wet because no one can sleep comfortably like that, but having them lightly damp will help regulate your body to achieve that perfect sleep temperature and comfort.
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3. Choose breathable bed coverings.
When I’m looking for bed covers, I often pick up whatever is cheapest or on sale, but that’s not a good strategy for sleep in the summer. “Part of the reason people don’t get quality sleep is because they’re sleeping on ill-fitted, scratchy sheets,” Adams suggests. She continues, “Buying quality, soft and cool sheets will help immensely during the summer months to avoid the tossing and turning.”
The best sheets for summer heat are made of natural fibers in either cotton or cotton-blend materials because they provide excellent ventilation and will wick away any sweat. Budget-friendly blends that won’t compromise sleep quality are Jersey and sateen, but if prices isn’t an option for you, Egyptian cotton is considered the best choice.
4. Avoid cuddling and spread out.
While you may love cuddling up with your partner under a warm comforter, that’s not going to help either of you rest this summer. If you have a large bed, spread out as far as you can from your partner and pretend you’re a snow angel by keeping your arms and legs apart. Weiss suggests this will help “to avoid increasing body heat by touching body parts.”
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