This story was originally published in the Chicago Tribune Brand Publishing "Cover to Cover" section.
It’s summertime, and sleeping is often not all that easy. With or without air conditioning, many people have trouble sleeping in warm weather because they get too hot at night, or they can’t fall asleep easily in the first place. There are some people who naturally “sleep hot” no matter the season. For a better night’s sleep this summer, here are seven tips that can help you cool down and nod off.
1. Use a mattress made for body cooling.
Modern mattresses are more than just springs and fluff. They have technology built in tailored for different types of sleepers. "Beds with breathable fabrics, as well as mattresses that utilize cooling technology, will provide a more comfortable sleep environment for people who tend to get warm while sleeping,” says Craig McAndrews, chief learning officer at Mattress Firm, a national mattress retailer. “For example, theTEMPUR-Breeze mattress is constructed with cooling materials inside the mattress cover and a comfort layer that helps reduce nighttime temperatures.”
2. Use a mattress topper made with gel.
A mattress topper is a less expensive alternative to buying a new mattress. Mattress toppers provide spongy layers on top of your mattress under the mattress cover or sheets. One example, recommended by McAndrews, is PureCare's Plush Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper, which is designed to provide cooling relief.
3. Try a pillow made for cooling.
If you’re constantly flipping your pillow to get to the cool side, there are many pillows on the market offering options to help control your sleep temperature. “A popular choice among our customers is the Hydraluxe Gel Memory Foam Pillow, which provides a gel bubble layer that directs heat away from the body to keep you cool while you catch your zzz’s,” McAndrews says.
4. Take a warm bath before bed.
This may seem counterintuitive, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, the natural lowering of body temperature brings on sleep. Taking a warm bath or shower raises the body’s temperature, cools you down as the water on your skin evaporates — which sets the stage for sleep. Try to schedule your warm shower or bath 60 to 90 minutes before bed, so your body temperature has a chance to drop, the Foundation recommends.
5. Cool the air in the bedroom.
Research has shown the optimum sleep temperature for most people is in the 60s. If this seems like too low a setting for your home’s air conditioner, invest in a programmable thermostat that allows you to cool the bedroom only at night. Or purchase room-darkening shades to keep the sun out during the day. A small personal fan may help, as well. (You can also put this on a timer if you get too cold later in the night when the air temperature and your body’s temperature have dropped.)
6. Invest in quality cotton bed linens.
A 100 percent cotton sheet is cooler than a polyester blend sheet, but some cotton sheets simply feel smoother and cooler than others due to the thread count or weave. Consider buying new sheets and replacing thicker blankets with a thin cotton blanket.
7. Keep your bed clean and orderly.
Making sure your bed is freshly clean and tidy makes for better sleep, according to Michael J. Breus, a clinical psychologist and fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. As one of the country’s most widely quoted sleep experts, authors and clinicians, Breus states in theinsomniablog.com that studies show people sleep better when they make up their beds every day, change their sheets once a week, and keep the bedroom dark and cool.