It’s economical – and eco friendly – to turn off your air conditioner. While many of us don’t live in places where we have the luxury of doing this during the day, when it’s so hot outside, many of us live in locales where it gets cooler at night. This makes bedtime the perfect time to turn off the A/C and stay cool in other ways. Just make sure you’re cool enough for optimum sleep, which is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees.
Tips for Cooling off Without A/C
Not sure how to start getting cool without cranking your A/C all night? Here are some tips that might help you sleep while saving energy.
Block Your Windows
The more light that comes in, the warmer your room will be. This is especially true of direct sunlight, because that basically means that the sun is beating into your bedroom. It’s usually worse in the afternoon and in rooms that face west, since that’s where the sun is at the end of the day.
Blackout curtains or blinds designed to keep heat out will work best in these situations. If you work all day, just pull them closed when you leave to keep the heat out. If you’ll be home, you can let the light in until it starts to get hot or until the sun starts shining through your windows.
Choose Your Bedding Carefully
Some mattresses and bedding materials will keep you cooler than others. Many memory foam mattresses hold heat, though some now come infused with gel or copper to keep you cooler. Innerspring beds are known for releasing heat rather than holding it.
You can also get a mattress pad designed to cool you off. Some of these are more effective than others and some can be quite expensive, but it might be worth it to you to stay cool all night long.
Finally, natural fibers, like cotton or bamboo, will keep you cooler than synthetic ones. Choose sheets and blankets made of these fibers, as they also tend to deal with your nighttime sweat better than other materials.
Turn Off Your Electronics
While the electronics you leave on may not seem like a big deal, they do emit heat, even when you’re not using them. When you’re in the middle of a hot summer, every degree counts. So shut them down and keep them out of your bedroom, so you can stay as cool as possible all night long.
Take a Cool Shower
Just being wet and stepping out into the air will make you feel cooler, but taking a cool shower will enhance that effect even more. The cool water will cool your body.
Try to do this as soon as possible before bed. That way, you will carry as many of the cooling effects with you as possible when you’re trying to sleep. And you don’t have to make the shower icy (though the cooler it is, the cooler you will get). As long as the temperature of the shower is lower than the air temperature, you should cool down.
Dip Your Hands and Feet in Cold Water
Not up for a cool shower? Put some water and ice cubes in a large bowl, or just start running your faucet until it’s as cold as possible. Then hold your hands, wrists, feet, and ankles in or under the water for 30-60 seconds.
This works because these are locations on your body where your blood vessels run close to the surface. As the blood runs by the cold water, it cools down. When your heart pumps it back to the rest of your body, it takes that coolness with it. If you do this enough times, you will feel quite a bit cooler.
Cool Your Bedding
In addition to cooling your body, you can also cool your bedding. Fold up a top sheet and put it in the freezer for a few hours before you go to bed. As long as you don’t get it wet first, it won’t freeze. Instead, it will just be nice and cool when you get it and put it on your bed. Sleeping with an ice-cold sheet over your body will definitely help you cool down.
Sleep Like an Ancient Egyptian
If you don’t want to freeze your bedding, try getting a sheet wet before you go to bed. This is an ancient Egyptian trick! Wring the sheet out so it isn’t dripping and won’t damage your mattress. Then, place it on top of you as you lie down to sleep. It should cool you and should continue to do so as long as the sheet is damp. You may want to lie on top of a towel or two, just to make sure your bed is protected.
Improve Your Airflow
Moving air tends to feel cooler than stagnant air that’s just sitting there. Ceiling fans can be a great way to cool down a room without running the air conditioner. If you don’t have one of those, box or pedestal fans work great, too. Once the outside air is cooler than the air in your bedroom, you can also open your windows.
Take this to the next level by giving yourself airflow from more than one source. Place a fan directly across from an open window, so you get the benefits of both. You can also place two fans so they hit you differently, which will also help keep you cool.
Make Your Own Air Conditioner
If you don’t have an air conditioner or you’d rather use a fan to save some energy, try this. Get a large bowl or a cooler. Fill it with ice. Place it in front of a fan and turn the fan so it is blowing on you. As the fan blows over the ice, it will carry those cooler particles into the room and, if you have your fan aimed right, onto you.
I know, I know, you love your partner. But cuddling and spooning at night will just make you warmer, because you will share each others body heat. Pretty soon, you’ll both be one big, sweaty mess. Feel free to cuddle before bedtime, but keep it out of your bed so the mattress doesn’t absorb any heat. Once you are in your bed and ready to sleep, you should each stay on your own side for optimum coolness.
Keep Your Clothing Loose
Tight, heavy clothing will make you warmer than you want to be. Make sure your clothing, like your sheets, is made from natural fibers. Make sure, too, that it is loose and doesn’t cling or bind anywhere.
If you are really brave, take it to the next level and sleep without clothing. This will give you the ultimate chance to benefit from any airflow you’ve added and to stay cool all night.
You don’t have to roast at night, but you don’t have to run your air conditioner every night, either. Try some of these methods – whichever ones are practical for you – and see if you can stay cool without your A/C. You’ll save money and it’s better for the planet, too.