Is Your Bed Hot? How to Sleep Cooler

It's mid-summer and we've had some hot, humid nights here in New York City. The heat broke last week, but most probably we're in for another heat wave before the summer is through. Some folks don't have air conditioners, whether it is because of  environmental reasons, or because of the cost of installing an air conditioner, or because their landlords prohibit air conditioners. I'm sorry to hear that, but there are ways to have a tolerable night's sleep without air conditioning in your bedroom. Here's how.

Sleep on a cooler mattress

First of all, foam mattresses and foam mattress toppers are super insulating. They retain heat like nobody's business. If you have a foam mattress or a foam mattress topper, including memory foam, ditch it for the summer and replace it with a regular mattress or a cotton futon.

Use cotton sheets on your bed

Crisp, cool cotton sheets are the best choice for hot summer nights. Avoid flannel, satin, or synthetic blend sheets when the temperature is in the 90s. Good old cotton broadcloth sheets breathe and allow sweat to evaporate off your body easily.

Sleep above your sheets

Even cotton sheets provide a layer of insulation. On super hot nights, sleep on just a bottom sheet. Sleeping without a cover takes some getting used to, but it allows heat to rise off your body rather than getting caught in between the sheets.

The Chillow: A cooling pillow

Lifehacker suggests the Chillow, a cooling pillow. Reviews of the Chillow on Amazon are mixed, but the endorsement from Lifehacker is promising. The chillow cools your head to promote falling asleep faster.

Try sleeping on a hammock

It might sound eccentric if not downright crazy, but sleeping on a hammock is cooler than in a bed. Why? Air circulates under the hammock, and a hammock lacks the layer of insulation that mattresses provide. Big Mayan-style hammocks are the most comfortable and safe to sleep in.

Keep the air moving in your room

If you lack an air conditioner, at least use a fan. One fan in the window facing out and one fan across the room facing in will move air through your room. Opinions vary on whether this method actually pulls hot air out of your room or not. Putting one fan in the window facing out will not do the job. You need to create a cross breeze.

Buy yourself an air conditioner

It doesn't cost that much to install a window air conditioner. By the time you get your cotton sheets and your two fans and your new mattress and your Chillow, you might as well have bought a small air conditioner for your bedroom. I'm not saying to import the best air conditioning contractor in Miami to install a high voltage, high velocity duct system for you. Just buy a small Energy Star certified window unit. You'll love it, I promise.

Chaya Kurtz writes for

Updated March 14, 2018.

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