You may already be aware that you sleep better in a cooler room. What happens, then, during those scorching summer months or for those who live in climates with hot temperatures year-round?
Aside from pumping the AC, how do we cool down our bedrooms so that we can get the best night's sleep possible? After all, not everyone has access to central air, and it can be expensive to use – especially in places where summer seems to go on and on.
Here are 12 ways to cool down your bedroom so you can sleep well through the night.
How to Cool Down a Room Without AC
Turning the AC down to 68 degrees and calling it a night might seem like the best idea, but what if you don’t have central air conditioning? What if you don’t like the feeling of it blowing on you all night? Add to that the fact that running the AC is expensive and damaging to the environment because of all the energy it uses.
All of these are valid reasons not to run the AC all night. So, we’ve come up with 12 ways to cool down your bedroom without it.
1. Close the Drapes or Blinds
During the day, the sun will shine into your windows and heat up your bedroom, especially if your windows are facing south or west. This is because south-facing windows will get sun for the longest during the day and west-facing windows will get sun at the hottest part of the day, in the afternoon.
If you don’t have air conditioning, a great way to cool down your room, especially one with south or west-facing windows, is to keep the blinds or drapes shut during the sunny hours of the day. This will help heat from building up in the room throughout the day, so by the time you go to bed at night, the room should be cooler.
To block the sun’s rays, the thicker the drapes, the better. In fact, blackout curtains are great for this purpose. As the name suggests, this type of curtain is designed to completely block out light by utilizing a lining or back with a tightly woven fabric. They’re also popular for those working third-shift schedules and need to sleep during the day.
2. Use a Dehumidifier
The only thing worse than being hot at night is being hot and sticky at night. Using a dehumidifier will not only circulate chilled air in the room, but it will remove moisture from the air.
These devices work by pulling warm, moist air into the unit and chilling it against coils containing a liquid coolant. Then the dry, cooler air is sent back out into the room.
Plus, according to Johns Hopkins, dehumidifiers are great for those with allergies as they curb the growth of dust mites and mold.
3. Open the Windows at Night
Once the sun has set, outdoor temperatures will typically drop. If they go below the temperature it is inside your home, opening the windows will cool your room down. If you have a multiple-story home, keep in mind that warm air rises. Therefore, you’ll want to crack the upstairs windows to let the warm air out and the cool air in.
If you have sash windows – windows that open vertically, rather than horizontally – researchers with the University of Cambridge have found that it’s a good strategy to leave sash windows in the mid-position, rather than nearly fully opened or nearly fully closed. This will create the best ventilation, causing the cool air to flush the warm air out of the room and also cooling the walls, floor, and ceiling.
Once the sun rises in the morning, though, close your windows, blinds, and curtains again to trap the cool air inside as best you can and prevent your room from heating up during the day.
If the noise outside is keeping you from opening your windows at night, white noise machines could help cancel out that sound.
4. Try to Create a Cross-Breeze
What’s better than cool air coming in through one window? Cool air moving through the room, via two windows.
If you have two windows in your bedroom that are in line with or diagonal to each other, open them both at about 50 percent at night.
To make the cross breeze even stronger, place a fan on each windowsill. On one windowsill, have the fan pointing inward, toward the room. This will blow the cool outside air inside. On the other windowsill, have the fan pointing outward, toward the open window. This will blow air outside, creating a strong cross breeze.
If you don’t have two windows in your room, you can still create a cross breeze by placing a fan (or multiple fans) across from your open window. This will act as a replacement for the other window and provide a cross breeze.
5. Avoid Using Hot Appliances
The list of appliances that give off heat while running is a long one: lighting (especially incandescent and halogen lighting), televisions, dishwashers, refrigerators, and more. This is because these appliances take electrical energy as their input, then convert it to produce heat energy that will power the appliance.
Some appliances, though, are made for the sole purpose of generating heat. For example, a clothes dryer gets hot in order to dry your clothes; a stove or oven produces heat to cook your food. As such, these appliances give off so much excess heat that they could actually be contributing to your house warming up unnecessarily.
So, if it’s hot out and you want to cool things down, try not using your dryer, stove, or oven for a while. Instead, line dry your clothes and cook with the microwave (or better still, eat foods that don’t require cooking for a few days.)
6. Close Other Rooms in Your Home
If you’ve used blackout drapes, open your windows at night, and have a cross breeze, your room is probably nice and cool. The last thing you want is for this newly-created cool air to escape your bedroom when you’re trying to sleep. Therefore, be sure to close the bedroom door and close off other rooms in your home to trap the cool air in the room where you want it – namely, your bedroom, when you’re trying to get some sleep.
7. Turn Off the Lights
Light bulbs give off heat. Even though they might not be super noticeable, it adds up. When you’re not using the lights in a room, switch them off. During the longer summer days, you’ll have plenty of natural light from outside for visibility, and when it gets dark, consider lighting a few candles. By using candles instead of artificial lights at night, this will also help your brain switch into sleep mode. The reason for this is that artificial light, including blue light emitted from electronic devices, can disrupt your circadian rhythm, which is part of the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
If this solution isn’t for you, you can at least switch over from incandescent light bulbs to more energy-efficient ones. This will not only keep your space cooler, but it’s helpful to your energy bill and the environment. CFL lights use 75 percent less energy than incandescent lights, and LEDs use 80 percent less energy.
8. Try a Portable Air Conditioner
Portable air conditioners are relatively small, you can move them from room to room, and they generally sit on the floor. The benefit of a portable AC compared to a window unit, is that you can move the portable unit anywhere there is a power source, rather than needing a window. These devices also require no installing.
The price between a portable unit and a window unit isn’t very different, but compared to installing central air conditioning, the price difference is vast. A portable AC unit might cost you anywhere between 300 and 500 dollars (and approximately 18 cents per hour you run it), compared to central air. Including installation, adding central air to your home will cost you anywhere from 2,500 to 9,000 dollars, depending on the size of your space.
If you only need to cool your home for a small portion of the year, have a small space, or only need to cool one room at a time, a portable air conditioning unit might be the solution for you.
9. Lower Your Mattress
This can mean lowering your mattress all the way to the floor, buying a bed frame that sits lower to the ground, or moving where you sleep in the house. If you typically sleep on an upper floor in your home, try sleeping downstairs.
As mentioned earlier, heat rises, but the other part of this equation is that cold air sinks. Putting your mattress or bed lower to the ground will actually put you in cooler air when you’re sleeping.
10. Hang Damp Sheets Around the Room
This is a good tip if you need to cool down a room fast, and you don’t have time to order a portable AC unit or go out and get some new blackout curtains.
You probably already have an extra sheet or two in your home. You’ll just drench it with cool water, ring it out, and then hang the sheet up near an open window. The breeze that comes through your window will be cooled down by the sheet, creating the cheapest and easiest DIY air conditioning ever.
Plus, if you use a dark sheet, in the morning this will help block out light and heat from the sun, hopefully earning you a few more minutes of cool, comfortable sleep.
11. Turn Your Ceiling Fan Counter-Clockwise
Did you know that ceiling fans can be used effectively year-round? In the winter, you should have your ceiling fan on the clockwise setting at a low speed. Since warm air rises, the gentle updraft created by this setting will allow that warm air to be redistributed through the space.
In the summer, though, you should set your ceiling fan to rotate counter-clockwise. This will push the air down and create a cool breeze.
Often, this is as easy as flipping a switch on your fan itself. Check your fan’s instruction manual if it isn’t immediately apparent.
12. Place Ice in Front of Your Fan
Using a portable fan is a great way to cool down the room, but if that’s not cutting it, you can add one ingredient to make the fan’s powers triple: ice.
You’ll place a bucket of ice in front of your fan and as the air passes over the ice, it will be chilled and circulate the cooler air around the room.
Other Ways to Help You Sleep Cooler
- Invest in Cooling Bedding Materials – You can take advantage of many temperature-regulating bedding materials in-store and online. Cooler bed sheets are excellent for direct cooling and can be especially helpful for warmer mattresses, such as memory foam beds. If you’re due for a new mattress, you might also consider replacing your current one with a latex, hybrid, or innerspring bed, which tend to sleep cooler. If that’s not an option for you, though, try a cooling mattress topper.
- Don’t Wear Socks – According to the National Library of Medicine, humans use our hands and feet to regulate our core temperature. That’s why when it’s cold you wear gloves and thick, wooly socks; they help warm up your core temperature. When it’s hot, though, and you’d rather be cooler, removing socks from your feet will help cool down the rest of your body.
- Stick Your Feet Out from Under the Covers – Just like not wearing socks can help, so can sticking your bare feet out from under the covers. Again, this is because your feet are important in regulating your overall body temperature. If they’re not stifled under the blankets, you’ll feel cooler overall.
- Wear Breathable Pajamas – Pajamas made from cotton, bamboo, silk, and linen will feel more breathable than other materials. If you’re sleeping hot, be sure you’re not wearing long pants or sleeves, or better still, try not wearing pajamas at all, if you’re comfortable with this.
Why Do You Sleep Better When It’s Cold?
There are many benefits to sleeping in a cold room, and it starts before you even fall asleep.
First, our body temperature starts to lower as it becomes nighttime and we are getting closer to sleep. That’s why we naturally do things like getting under the covers, When you keep your room cooler, you’re helping reinforce your body’s natural instinct to move toward sleep. If your room is too hot, you might accidentally be blocking your body’s signal to get some shut-eye.
In the morning, as you get closer to waking, your body’s temperature naturally starts to rise again. This might cause you to wake up or feel like you’re sleeping hot around 4:00 a.m. – not an ideal time to wake up for everyone. Keeping your bedroom cooler should keep you asleep longer.
Perhaps the most significant benefit of sleeping in a cool room is that colder temperatures (between 60-68 degrees) increase the production of melatonin, which is an essential hormone for sleep.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I cool my room down without AC?
If you don’t have central air conditioning or don’t want to run it year-round, there are several ways to cool your room without it. Start by blocking the sunlight with drapes or blinds during the day. Then, at night, open your windows to about 50 percent and use fans to create a cross breeze. If you need it even cooler, try placing a bucket of ice in front of a portable fan, so that cool air circulates through the room. You can also invest in a portable air conditioning unit. These are a much less expensive option than installing central air and work well for people who only need air conditioning a few months out of the year.
2. Why is my room so hot even with the fan on?
If you have central air conditioning and your room is still hot, you’ll want to make sure that the vents in your room are fully opened and not blocked by furniture, curtains, or any other items. If you don’t have central air and your room is hot, even with your fan going, it might be because hot air has been trapped in the room from the day. Remember, a fan only circulates the air in the room, so if the air in the room is warm, the fan will just circulate warm air.
Make sure your fan is set to rotate counter-clockwise in the warmer, summer months, to help cool your space. You might also try putting a bucket of ice in front of the fan or investing in a portable air conditioning unit to circulate colder air in the room.
3. Will closing the curtains keep the room cool?
When your room gets hot during the day, that heat doesn’t just go away once it becomes dark. Therefore, putting up curtains or blinds to help block the sunlight will help keep your room from getting hot during the day and staying hot through the night. Try blackout curtains for the best results as these are made to completely stop light from coming through and therefore, should provide the most cooling.
Sleeping in a cooler room can allow you to feel more comfortable throughout the night and improve your overall quality of sleep. Rather than accrue expensive energy bills by running the air conditioning, though, you can use these helpful tactics to cool down your bedroom and optimize your rest.
Along with keeping the room cooler, investing in temperature-regulating bedding and sleep accessories can also help you feel more comfortable and prevent overheating at night. These can include cooling mattresess, toppers, sheets, pillows, and breathable pajamas. If you struggle with sleeping hot at night, we recommend taking the initiative to implement some of these tips in order to enhance your rest.
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Natalie is a content writer for Sleep Advisor with a deep passion for all things health and a fascination with the mysterious activity that is sleep. Outside of writing about sleep, she is a bestselling author, improviser, and creative writing teacher based out of Austin.
When she's doing none of these things, you will most likely find her outdoors, at the gym, or... asleep.