We’ve all been there—tossing and turning in bed, struggling because our sweat has us practically glued to the sheets. It IS AWFUL. For me there is nothing worse than trying to catch some shut-eye (or even just relax!) while the room is incredibly hot, making you & everything sticky with sweat. But brutal summer temps are unavoidable for most of us at some point in the year, especially here in Cyprus. So how to cool down a room without AC? Is it even possible? I promise you IT IS, I swear!
A few quick tips and tricks, a bunch of which you’ve probably never heard, can mean the difference between a sleepless night in a borderline sauna and some blissful zzz’s. So I hear you ask what exactly am I going to cover? (Well, not ourselves, obviously.) Simple things like how to use the freezer to your advantage (it’s not what you think 😉), getting low, (to the ground, that is), and getting extra creative with grains. Confused? Don’t be, Just read on and it will all make sense.
Before we dive in, we realize the obvious solution for cool, calm, and REM-ful sleeping is an air conditioner: These gizmos can keep a bedroom at the optimum sleep temperature 16*-21*C (roughly between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit), plus provide some nice white noise to boot, so for some it’s a win win situation. Unfortunately though, even small window units use up tons of energy and quickly mount up a huge monthly electric bills. So, what’s an environmentally responsible, budget-conscious sleeper to do?
Living through a hot summer without AC seems impossible but, hey, our grandparents did it all the time! Turns out, they learned a few things in the process. Here are all those tried-and-true DIY & environmentally friendly strategies for how to stay cool in summer.
So Let’s stay Cool as a Cucumber—How to Beat the Heat
1. Choose cotton.
Start by saving the ooh-la-la satin, silk, or polyester sheets for cooler nights. Best to have light-coloured bed linen which is made of lightweight cotton (Egyptian or otherwise) which are breathable and excellent for promoting ventilation and airflow in the bedroom.
2. Feel the freezer burn.
By sticking your sheets in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes before bed you will instantly feel cooler. Its recommended you place them in a plastic bag first, unless of course, eu de frozen pizza is your favourite aromatherapy scent!). Granted, this won’t keep you cool all night, but it will provide a brief respite from heat and humidity.
3. Get cold comfort.
Here’s a four-seasons tip for keeping utilities charges down: Buy a hot water bottle. In winter, fill it with boiling water for toasty toes without cranking the thermostat. During summer, stick it in the freezer to create a bed-friendly ice pack.
4. Be creative.
If you thought fans are just for blowing hot air around, think again! Point box fans out the windows so they push hot air out. Remember to adjust ceiling fan settings so the blades run counter-clockwise, pulling hot air up and out instead of just twirling it around the room.
5. Sleep like an Egyptian.
If there seem to be a lot of Egyptian references in this list, it’s because those Nile-dwellers knew how to do it right. The so-called “Egyptian method” involves dampening a sheet or towel in cool water and using it as a blanket. I’d recommend laying the damp sheets on top of a dry towel to avoid soaking the mattress.
6. Get loose.
Less is definitely more when it comes to summertime pj’s. By picking a loose, soft cotton shirt and shorts or underwear will help. Unsurprisingly most people believe going full nudie during a heat wave is best but this is controversial. Some people believe it helps keep them cool, while others claim going au natural means sweat stays on the body instead of being wicked away by fabric.
7. Go old-school.
Remember when refrigerators were iceboxes that contained actual blocks of ice? Us neither. This stay-cool trick is straight out of the icebox era, though. Make a DIY air conditioner by positioning a shallow pan or bowl (a roasting pan works nicely) full of ice in front of a fan. The breeze will pick up cold water from the ice’s surface as it melts, creating a cooling mist.
8. Create a cross-breeze.
In this case, hanging out in the cross-hairs is a good idea. Position a fan across from a window, so the wind from outside and the fan combine in a cooling cross-breeze. Feeling fancy? Go buck-wild and set up multiple fans throughout the room to make the airflow even more boisterous.
9. Pamper your pulses.
Need to cool down, stat? To chill out super-fast, apply ice packs or cold compresses to pulse points at the wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles, and behind the knees.
10. Get tech-y.
I can’t vouch for its effectiveness, but I found the chillow — a high-tech pad that stays cool through water circulation—seems like a genius idea.
11. Be a lone wolf.
I’m Sorry to tell you lovebugs, but sleeping alone is way better than spooning for staying cool. Cuddling with a partner increases body heat, making the bed a sticky, sweaty pit of despair instead of a cool, calm oasis.
12. Fill up the tank.
Get a leg up on hydration by drinking a glass of water before bed. Tossing, turning and sweating at night can result in dehydration, so get some H20 into your system beforehand. (Pro tip: Just eight ounces will do the trick, unless you’re really into those 3 a.m. bathroom runs!)
13. Cool off.
A cold shower takes on a whole new meaning come summertime. Rinsing off under a stream of tepid H20 brings down the core body temperature and rinses off sweat (ick) so you can head to your bed feeling cool and clean.
14. Get low.
Hot air rises, so set up your bed, hammock, or cot as close to the ground as possible to beat the heat. In a one-story home, that means hauling the mattress down from a sleeping loft or high bed and putting it on the floor. If you live in a multi-floor house or apartment, sleep on the ground floor or in the basement instead of an upper story.
15. Turn off the lights.
This tip is pretty self-explanatory. Light bulbs (even environmentally-friendly CFLs) give off heat. Fortunately, summer means it stays light until eight or nine at night. Take advantage of natural light as much as possible, and keep rooms cool after dark by using lights minimally or not at all (romantic candle-lit dinner, anyone?).
16. Hang out.
Cool down a whole room by hanging a wet sheet in front of an open window. The breeze blowing in will quickly bring down the room’s temperature.
17. Stay away from the stove.
Summer is not the time to whip up a piping hot casserole or roast chicken. Instead, chow down on cool, room-temperature dishes (salads are clutch) to avoid generating any more heat in the house. If hot food is in order, fire up the grill instead of turning on the oven. And swap big meals for smaller, lighter dinners that are easier to metabolize. The body produces more heat after you chow down on a huge steak than a platter of fruits, veggies, and legumes.
18. Encourage cold feet.
Those toes are pretty sensitive to temperature because there are lots of pulse points in the feet and ankles. Cool down the whole body by dunking (clean!) feet in cold water before hitting the hay. Better yet, keep a bucket of water near the bed and dip feet whenever you’re feeling hot throughout the night.
19. Unplug at night.
As in, literally disconnect electronics. Gadgets and other small appliances give off heat, even when turned off. Reduce total heat in the house (and save energy!) by keeping plugs out of sockets when the appliances are not in use.
20. Camp at home.
Got access to a safe outdoor space like a roof, courtyard, or backyard? Practice those camping skills (and stay cooler) by pitching a tent or sleeping al fresco on a sunlounger.
21. Go rustic.
When temperatures soar, trade in that extra-comfy mattress for a minimalist straw or bamboo mat. These all-natural sleeping surfaces are less comfortable, but they don’t retain heat like a puffy, cloth-covered mattress.
22. Get creative with grains.
Rice and buckwheat aren’t just for eating! These cupboard staples can also keep you cool on hot nights. Stock up on buckwheat pillows, which don’t absorb heat like cotton and down. And for a cold compress on really hot nights, fill a sock with rice, tie it off, and stick it in the freezer for an hour or so. The compress will stay chilly for up to 30 minutes, enough time to nod off.
Good luck surviving and if you have any tips of your own, comment below!
If your little one doesn’t sleep even without the heat, I’m sure I can help!