How to Sleep Better in the Summer Heat

Sleep BetterThe dog days of summer can have a significant impact on your life — including your sleep. Here’s why: at bedtime, your body temperature naturally decreases to help you relax. Brutal air temperatures and sauna-like humidity can make it harder for your body to cool down, leading to endless tossing and turning. Studies suggest that the optimum temperature for restful sleeping falls somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Of course, the most obvious solution is to use an air conditioner. But, there are other, more environmentally responsible and budget-friendly ways to optimize your sleep. Here are some simple things you can do that will help you stay cool and avoid sleepless nights in the summertime heat:

  • Bathe before bedtime — Depending on your preferences, a hot bath or cool shower may do the trick. After a hot bath, your core body temperature will drop when you get into bed, which can help ease your transition from wakefulness to sleep. Alternatively, a cool shower will lower your core body temperature and wash away sweat, helping you feel more relaxed and allowing you to comfortably drift off.
  • Choose cotton bedding and pajamas — Natural fibers like lightweight cotton are more breathable than their silk and polyester counterparts and can help your body take advantage of airflow in your bedroom. Cotton also wicks moisture away from your skin. To further enhance this cooling effect, place your sheets in a plastic bag and store them in a refrigerator or freezer for a few hours before bedtime. Or, dampen a sheet with cool water and use it as a blanket.
  • Support your head properly — In the summer heat, you may find that a small, firm pillow is more comfortable than a big, fluffy one, which can trap more heat from your head. One good option is a buckwheat pillow, which can provide excellent air circulation. Another is a specially designed “cooling” pillow that is infused with gel that will remain cool even as your warm head presses down on it.
  • Use a fan — Fill a shallow pan with ice and position it in front of a fan. The breeze will pick up cold water as the ice melts, creating a cool breeze. Or, position a fan directly across from an open window to create a cooling cross-breeze (you can intensify this effect by using multiple fans).
  • Chill your pulse points — For a quick (but temporary) cool-down, apply ice packs or cold compresses in areas of your body where you can feel your pulse, such as your neck, wrists, elbows, ankles, and behind your knees.
  • Sleep alone or negotiate space — Because bodies radiate heat, having some personal space is key to staying cool. For maximum air circulation and cooling effect, lie on your back with your arms and legs spread outward.

If you’re still not drifting off to sleep after trying these techniques, you may want to check in with a health care provider to find out if there’s another reason that you’re having trouble sleeping. For this or any other non-life-threatening health issue, you are welcome to contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, FL. No appointments are necessary at our walk-in clinic, where you will be seen by a qualified doctor who has years of experience in identifying and treating many common illnesses and injuries.