Poor Scarlett O’ Hara. Not only did she miss out on the man of her dreams, but she had to suffer through the sweltering, stifling heat of Atlanta in the days before air conditioning.
Even without air conditioning, residents of the Deep South had many creative solutions to get a good night’s sleep in the summer. These included sleeping porches and even snoozing outside.
Still, even with our modern conveniences, sleeping in the summertime can be challenging, and nothing creates a restless night more than waking up drenched in sweaty sheets.
Research has actually demonstrated that there is an ideal temperature for sleeping. If it’s too warm, not only will it make it more difficult to go to sleep, but it also causes restlessness and affects dreaming.
The perfect degrees for wonderful zzzz’s
The National Sleep Foundation states that there is actually an ideal temperature for sleeping—somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Because your body naturally decreases its temperature to initiate sleep, a cooler room helps the process.
Set the thermostat lower or higher than recommended and it affects the quality of your REM sleep. This is the deep, restful, “dreaming” sleep that is necessary for your body to feel refreshed.
How heat affects your sleep
Thanks to air conditioning, we don’t need to be fanning ourselves like Miss Scarlet. However, during heat waves, it’s not unusual to have rolling blackouts, where electrical power may turn off and on due to demand. It’s always best to have a strategy in place to ensure quality shut-eye.
Here are some tips:
- Create a “sleep-friendly” bedroom
Prevent heat from building up by shutting the blinds to keep out sunlight. Keep windows shut unless it’s cooler outside. If it’s a cool night, opening windows allows breezes to cool the room. However, if you have extensive allergies, you may wish to keep the windows shut and explore the other options listed.
- Sleep on a lower floor
Warm air rises, so the lower you are, the cooler you’ll be. If you have an upstairs bedroom, consider sleeping on the first floor, even if it means bunking on the couch for a few nights.
- Sleep outdoors (if it’s safe to do so)
If your house has become a sauna and there’s no way to cool it down, consider sleeping outdoors if you can do so safely. Remember to use a sturdy tent and have plenty of bug spray and mosquito nets.
- Hydration is a must
Water is a great help. Be sure to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, and use a mist bottle to cool you down throughout the night.
- Dress appropriately
Wear lightweight or sleeveless pajamas.
- Take an evening shower
Taking a shower before bed helps. If you wake up during the night drenched in sweat, get up and take a quick shower to cool you off so you can go back to sleep.
Don’t sleep in your car!
Some people think that it’s a good idea to sleep in their car with the AC running. This is dangerous. If the vehicle isn’t moving, carbon monoxide can build-up and create a potentially fatal situation.
Check your AC before it’s too late
Murphy’s Law says that if anything can go wrong, it will, at the worst possible moment. For your air conditioning, that means sputtering out in the middle of a heat wave. It’s best to prepare ahead of time.
Get a maintenance checkup for your AC to head off any problems before they develop. That extra assurance means you can rest easy no matter what the thermometer says.
Betcha didn’t know that!
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