How to get a cool night’s sleep in a heat wave

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Much of the country has been suffering through a heat wave and when it lifts, we’re still facing the hottest time of the year: July and August.

How to get a cool night’s sleep in a heat wave

Even with the air conditioning running full blast at home and office, it can be hard after a day in and out of the heat to cool your body down at night to get the restorative sleep you need. And if you live in a house without robust AC, it can be downright impossible to sleep well.

“Research has shown that there seems to be an ideal temperature for sleep and when this temperature is very high, it takes longer to fall asleep, and once sleep is achieved, it is broken up or fragmented and there is less dreaming,” according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Sleep Foundation.

The NSF offers these tips for staying cool through the night, and we encourage sleep products retailers to share them with their customers.

  • Prevent your bedroom from heating up. During the day, keep curtains closed and blinds down. When it’s super hot, keep windows closed, too. You can open them at night if it cools down.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and eat frequent small meals throughout the day.
  • Take a cool shower or bath before bed—and don’t dry your hair. Wet bed head is cooling.
  • “Some people have found that being sprayed by a plant mister or gadget that creates a fine mist may help,” the NSF says.
  • Dampen washcloths and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer. You can use them as a cool compress before bed or in the middle of the night if you’re too warm. In a pinch, cool your neck, insides of your wrists and behind your knees with a bag of frozen veggies.
  • Do your best to stick to your normal sleep schedule.
  • In extreme heat, especially if you live in a home without central AC, you may need to stay with friends or relatives or take advantage of cooling stations operated in your community.

Other tips:

  • Invest in new pillows and sheets that have cooling and moisture-wicking properties. And next time you’re in the market for a new mattress, consider one that promises cooler sleep through improved airflow and the same moisture-wicking and cooling fabrics found in sleep accessories.
  • Even in homes with central AC, certain parts of the house can be warmer than others. If your bedroom is in a hot zone, bring in portable fans or install a ceiling fan. To make a portable fan even more effective, place a pan of ice water in front of it.
  • Wear lightweight pajamas or invest in new PJs made of moisture-wicking and cooling fabrics. On really hot nights, you might want to skip pajamas altogether.

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