After spending a summer sweltering through the heatwave without an AC in the room, I’ve had to adjust to sleeping through the heat without the help of an air conditioner.
There are a few ways to beat the heat without an AC. Have your fan oscillate and blow warm air out of an open window. Place frozen water bottles below it, and damp cloths on your wrists/neck/feet. Don’t eat big meals or spicy foods, and keep yourself hydrated. Take a cool shower, and consider getting special pillows/mattress covers (listed below).
Use your fan properly
First off I want to discuss the best tool we have in our arsenal: the common household fan. While it is not a replacement for an AC, a fan can make a lot of difference. Both in terms of cooling you down, but also encouraging good air circulation to stop things getting stale.
If you want a super-detailed run-down, check out my post on how to sleep with a noisy bedroom fan. I go into much more detail there.
In short, the main point is not to just place the fan too close or have it next to your face. Let it oscillate, and put the fan a good few feet away from you. The last thing you want to do is dry out your skin, and especially not your nose or eyes!
Second, if things are really bad, consider ‘making your own’ AC. Freeze containers full of water (bottles work fine), and place them right below the fan. This creates a lot of cold air that can you can enjoy being blown over you.
Make sure that the fan isn’t next to the window. You want it to be blowing the warm air out of the room. If it’s pointing inwards it’ll just be pushing the stale air around and around.
Tips on How to Sleep In A Room Without an Air Conditioner
Lights out! Ever tried to change a bulb after the light’s been on for hours? Producing light is hot work! Leave as many lights off as you feel comfortable with – this is the kind of thing that helps much more than you’d think. (I recommend the same with candles, but I’m hoping that goes without saying!) Bonus tip: If you’re able to, switch out your bulbs for energy saving ones – since they use less energy they produce much less heat.
Unplug major electronics: Just like with lights, electronics are also constantly producing heat. If you really want to reduce the temperature as much as possible, turn off any TV’s, laptop chargers, speaker systems… anything that would use a lot of juice. Even on standby, they’re still producing warmth.
Make an ‘ice-water bottle’: Flip the idea of a hot water bottle on its head! Fill one with water and throw it in the freezer for a few hours. It’s like having the cold side of the pillow available constantly. If you don’t have a hot water bottle, don’t worry – you can improvise. Grab any sort of container that would work (even just a big water bottle) and wrap it in a towel. Voila! Portable coldness.
Stay hydrated! This is more of a general health tip, but if it’s hot and sweaty, take this as a reminder to keep your water levels topped up.
Check out ChiliPads: While I’ve yet to try them (the heatwave has just ended here at the time of writing!) – these mattress toppers by ChiliTechnology look like a possible solution. From what I can tell, you place it under your sheets and plug it in. Then it cools itself down, giving you cool and fresh sheets all night long. I need to buy one for myself to do a full recommendation, but word of mouth is spreading and the reviews are good!
Get cold feet: I know it seems a million miles away, but take a second and think about how you dress for winter. What did Mom always say? Wear good socks, and keep your head covered. That’s where we lose body temperature the most. We can flip this to fight back against the heat. Wet a cloth or towel with cold water (or even freezer it!), and wrap it around your feet and/or neck and head. Wrists work too. It won’t take long until this coldness spreads and cools your whole body.
Win the mental battle. The more you think about how hot it is, the hotter it will seem! Slow down. Relax. When you go and try to sleep, breathe slowly, and picture cold places. Imagine a skiing holiday you’d love to go on, or hiking through snow-topped mountains. Really visualize yourself there. If you focus hard enough, you may even get yourself to shiver.
Think positive! For every minute that you’re trying to get to sleep, the temperature is cooling down. If it’s just a little too hot when you’re getting to bed, relax in the knowledge that the temperature is only going to get cooler as the night gets later.
Don’t give your body fuel. Make sure not to eat any large meals within 2-3 hours of trying to sleep. Doing so is just going to supercharge that amazing engine that is your body. Similarly, if you go anywhere near spicy food.. good luck with that! If you’re hungry, have a glass of milk or maybe some yoghurt. Whatever it is, the less carbs the better. (As if we didn’t have enough reason to avoid those delicious carbs already..)
Stay off the drugs, kids. Similarly, try your best to avoid caffeine and alcohol – they really just make problems worse. It’s not the end of the world to have a few drinks, just be aware that it doesn’t help. (Be especially careful with beer/wine – those just give your body a bunch more calories to burn, keeping your warmer!)
Get damp. While this may look ridiculous, try grabbing a water bottle with a spraying head and ‘mist’ the clothes you’ll be sleeping in. If you don’t mind the damp clothes, this is a great way to keep your whole body cold.
Wear the right type of clothes: When it comes to dealing with heat, some fabrics are a lot better than others. Hint: The same goes for your bed fabrics!
- Cotton comes in top, partly because it’s really inexpensive and very easy to get a hold of. It’s breathable so heat can escape your body, but also really soft and deals well with sweat.
- Rayon was made to a cheap alternative to silk – and works well for it’s much cheaper price. It’s completely synthetic; mixing man-made fibers with cotton for a great combined results. It’s fine strands make it very light and breathable, while being (almost) as comfortable as silk.
- Silk is probably the overall best option, but it’s just so expensive! Just like in all those sexy adverts and movies, it’s incredibly, luxurious, light, and comfortable.
Freeze your sheets: Place your sheets in the freezer for an hour or so before you head to bed. Once you put them back on, it’ll really help offset that extra heat which seems to linger at the end of the day. If this might be too harsh on your skin against the immediate cold, try doing it with mattress protectors instead.
Take a cold shower: A great way to try and separate the hot day from the cool evening is to start the night with a cold shower. Wash away all of the day’s sweat, and it becomes a little easier to not feel so hot afterwards. However, don’t make it too cold. There’s a trap with cold showers a lot of people fall into. Basically, if you make it too cold, your body starts to adjust to that temperature. Then, when you come out the shower into the warm air, your body goes ‘oh my god! It’s suddenly so much warmer!’. And guess what happens? Sweat. Going quickly from super cold to warm causes a lovely outpouring of sweat, basically ruining all your efforts.
If you’re taking a cold shower, make it cool – not ice cold. (Or at least, make the last few minutes cool to allow for the adjustment).
Check out alternative pillows and mattresses. The normal mattresses we use aren’t great for spreading out heat. They’re quite well compacted, and end up insulating a ton of heat from our bodies and the day’s sun. Instead, consider a bamboo mat to sleep on top if – it really helps to allow the heat to flow out from underneath you. Similarly, buckwheat pillows are a great alternative that are better at keeping themselves cool.
Chillows – the weirdest named product ever. Chillows are ‘cooling pillows’ which you place inside of your normal pillows. You fill it with water and let it cool, and in addition a one-of-a-kind gel helps to instantly dissipate any heat build up within the chillow. They’re a bit of a pain to set up for the first time, but it can be a great alternative to use with your normal pillow. Worth a look!