It’s Too Darn Hot!
This summer’s filled with challenges: Air conditioned offices closed. Kids with few camp options. Masks to keep us safe from Covid19 that can get damp. Oppressive heat in much of the country. All of that can keep you from sleep, especially when it gets too darn hot.
Classic drawing by Hirshfeld of Cole Porter, a poster for Too Darn Hot
That’s because the body likes to – needs to – cool down when it rests.
Here are the stats (not to make you feel worse!): Sleeping in hot environments elevates morning stress, while people in cooler environments slept longer and were more alert the next morning. The ideal temperature for sleep ranges between 60-70°℉ or 15.5-21℃. Humidity below 65% is also helpful.
All this is great if you can control the temperature. But when you can’t it’s good to know how to cool down your home, bedroom, body, and mind.
Cooling your home
Maybe you can crank your AC down to minus freezing on Neptune. But if your home is hot, your bedroom’s hot, and so are you. These basic tips can keep your house cooler.
- Get room darkening curtains, liners, or drape extra sheets or towels up on the windows. Outdoor shades and awnings can reduce heat up to 15°. These transition areas (between your window and curtain, or awning and wall) reduce extra heat from traveling through the home.
- A chimney effect brings in cool and expels the heat. In a multi-story house, open one window upstairs because hot air naturally rises. Otherwise, put a fan facing out in one window, or turn on a kitchen and/or bath exhaust fan. See if you get a stronger chimney effect if you keep just one incoming window open.
- Keep the sunny side of your home dark and closed – that’d be east in the morning, west and south during the day (in the northern hemisphere). Open up blinds and windows in the evening. Or keep your whole house closed, but with a chimney effect in operation until it cools off.
- Turn off lights and minimize cooking. Declutter – stuff holds heat and interferes with flowing air.
Cooling your bedroom
- Put frozen washcloths or small towels over the fan. Or if it’s not too humid make a swamp fan – a large pan of ice in front of your fan for cooler air.
- Use a dehumidifier in a humid zone.
- For top bedding, use a damp wet sheet or bath towel. Or freeze a moistened top sheet in a plastic bag for an hour before you hit the hay.
- Sleep with no top sheet at all. If breathing on your body bugs you (it does me) lay a damp pillowcase on your shoulders.
- Get low to stay cool – sleep on the floor, on a bamboo mat, or on a lower floor.
Cooling your body
- Take a cooling shower before bed and don’t dry off all the way.
- Spritz yourself with an equal mix of rubbing alcohol and water (assuming you can find rubbing alcohol these days!). Or put some diluted mint, rose, or sandalwood oil on your wrists and temples or from a diffuser if it’s not too humid.
- Drink lots of water, all day. Don’t consume caffeine, heavy meals, and don’t exercise late.
- Wear/ sleep on cotton or breathable polyester.
- Stick your feet out of the covers – they act as thermal regulators.
- Freeze a sock full of rice for two hours and use it as a cool compress. Put an extra one in a cooler by your bed to use in the middle of the night.
- Purchase a cooling blanket, pillowcase, towel, or neck cooler.
Cooling your mind
When you’ve done the best you can in your environment, your mind can cool you off.
- Stop comparing. That means stop imagining how much better it would be if you lived in a different hemisphere, your AC was better, or if the weather was how it used to be. Commit to some action for climate change, to feel more empowered. Soothe your mind to cooling down now.
- Tension holds heat. Relax just one part of your body, just 5%. Feel how that relaxation can reverberate and spread a little farther. Elves with pink and red hats and hanging wings inside a yellow lit cave
- Focus your attention on the coolest part of your body. Could be the outside of your upper arm on top of the sheets, instead of the heat beneath your breasts.
- Fantasize that your body is storing up heat because you’re sitting out in the snow.
- Imagine there are tiny people (maybe little elves, I love elves) inside your body. They’re spraying cool, blue, relaxing bubbles – or air or water or magic – wherever you feel hot. Let ridiculous creativity rule. Maybe those tiny elves have icy heat-removal vacuum cleaners, sucking away your body’s heat.
- Staying cool – especially in your mind – gives you more summer joy for peaches, berries, swimming, and flowers.
Here are some cooling things I’ve found to buy. I get a small affiliate fee when you use these links, if you’re interested.
Kafka Kool Ties (cotton filled with long lasting gel beads)