Sleeping in the summer without the aid of air conditioning can be a beastly experience. But it is possible to get solid rest when you don’t have access to that sweet, sweet recirculated air — people have been successfully getting shut-eye for thousands of years without electrical cooling systems and many cultures still exist without it. So quit whining and follow these eleven Van Winkle’s approved tips for sleeping in the swelter.
1. Cover Yourself With Damp Cloth
Pith helmets, those wide, hard hats worn by desert crossers and jungle explorers, were designed to cool down noggins. Wearers would douse the hats in water, and the naturally absorptive canvas material would stay cool throughout the evaporation process. But, don’t run off to your local haberdashery just yet. Instead, follow the Pith model — also known as the Egyptian method — by dampening cotton garments (or even your sheets) before laying down.
2. Beat the Heat with Heat
It might sound counterintuitive, but Indians guzzle piping-hot tea and chew blazing chile peppers in devastating heat. This seemingly insane strategy is backed by science, as NPR reported: The tongue is covered with a type of nerve receptor called TRPV1. When something hot touches the toungue, those receptors trigger the body’s natural cooling mechanism: sweating. So, while steaming liquid and spicy peppers will certainly make you feel hot in the moment, that burning feeling corresponds to lower body temperature in the long-term.
3. Hit the Deck
Heat rises. You may have customized your bed to suit your resting preferences, but when the temperature climbs into the 90s, consider hitting the ground for the night.
4. Head to High Ground
Very high ground. Sounds silly, but for centuries, residents of southeast Turkey — the country’s impoverished, heavily Kurdish region — have built homes with flat roofs to provide nighttime refuge in 113-degree weather. If you do take to the roof, make sure there are protective railings, as many Kurds have incurred injuries while sleeping al-fresco.
5. Create a Cross Breeze...
Place two fans, both facing the bed, at opposite sides of the room (preferably with the window open) to recreate the feel of a real life summer breeze.
6 ...Or Make Your Own A/C
Place a bowl of ice in front of the fan, or hang a damp towel over it, and you’ll have an icy blast courtesy of your favorite oscillating electronic device.
7. Flip Your Blades
If you have a ceiling fan in your bedroom, you should know how to use it properly. The main rule: If you’re standing beneath a ceiling fan and can’t feel air-flow, then the blades are likely facing the wrong direction. In the summer, they should be pushing air down.
8. Sleep with your feet outside the sheets.
Extremities absorb heat and cold. It's as simple as that.
9. Recruit a Chillow
A Chillow is exactly what it sounds like: a cotton ice pack that slips around your pillow. It sells for around $20 and does wonders for literal hot heads. Don’t want to buy one? Place a frozen water bottle or some chilled rice (which holds heat and cold well) beneath your pillow to recreate the effect.
10. Freeze Your Sheets
No, keeping your bed linens beside a bag of frozen peas for a while isn’t a good idea. But sticking your sheets in the freezer for a few minutes before bedtime is an easy way to give yourself a cold, refreshing runway when you touch down on your mattress. Just be sure to place the sheets in a plastic bag, lest you cuddle up to the scent of freezer burn.
11. Unplug Your Electronics
You’re already keeping your phone out of the bedroom, right? Well you should unplug any other bedroom-based electronics in the summer, as the heat they produce will add to your already swampy room. Unless you live in a Weird Science-like bedroom lab, this won’t lower the temperature dramatically. But anything helps.