Better Sleep on Hot, Humid Summer Nights

Getting a decent night’s sleep is not only good for a happy disposition and lots of energy during the day, restful sleep helps the brain function better, boosts the immune system response, and can help support a healthy body weight.  But in hot, humid weather, it can be difficult to keep from overheating and tossing and turning all night – especially if you sleep with a partner or are already running hot thanks to menopause. 

According to a recent Everyday Health report, record temperatures across Europe and North America are leaving many people who live without air conditioning struggling to find relief from the heat and humidity.  Sleeping in a heatwave is especially difficult but even without a/c, there are some tips that can help hot sleepers this summer. 

A fan (or two) to circulate air can help of course, as will using only light, breathable bed linens.  Keeping shades drawn against the sun’s heat during the day will also keep the bedroom cooler at night.  Insulated cellular shades can significantly reduce solar heat from entering a home through the window.

A bedtime ritual that includes a tepid shower can also help the body cool down and prepare for sleep.  If sleeping naked isn’t comfortable, choose breathable, cool fabrics for pyjamas such as cotton or silk.  A cooling mattress may also help keep the body from overheating at night.  Avoid alcohol or heavy meals within 4 hours of bedtime as well as any strenuous exercise or stressful activities that can heat up the body.  Freezing your pillowcase in the evening before bed can also offer relief. 

When a/c or a fan isn’t getting the job done to cool the sleeping area, try using a dehumidifier or directing a fan across a bowl filled with ice water.  The ideal indoor humidity level should be between 30 and 50 percent, and experts suggest setting the thermostat to 65 degrees for the body to keep its natural core temperature.  However, keeping the bedroom this cool in summer heat may be difficult, and costly.  A combination of air conditioning and other strategies should help create a more comfortable sleeping environment.

If you still regularly wake up soaked in sweat, even after taking all the steps you can to stay cool at night, talk with your doctor as this may be the result of medication side effects or an underlying health condition.