What are some ways we can improve sleep on those hot, muggy summer night? We absolutely love sleeping with our windows open during the spring. The cool, fresh air provides a refreshing sleep environment that promotes a perfect bedroom temperature for slumber. Studies show that sleeping in 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit promotes a thermoneutrality zone where sleep time is maximal. Going above or below this thermoneutrality zone can increase sleeplessness. As summer approaches, and the temperature starts getting hotter and the air more humid, it’s very easy for sleepless nights to become more common. Luckily there have been some wonderful advancements in pillows, sheets, mattresses, and external devices which can help regulate your bedroom climate. Here we will discuss some easy ways to keep you cool at night. |
Would you wear thermal underwear in the sweltering heat of summer? Of course not! You adapt your clothing to give you an optimal comfort level based on the temperature outside. Why would this be any different for the sheets you sleep with? Your sheets are the one material that directly touch your body throughout the night. Just like your clothing, you should have seasonal sheets to fit your sleep environment.
Linen Sheets are an ideal material for your bed in the heat of summer. Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant. These fibers are extremely absorbent and textiles made from linen are valued for their coolness and freshness in hotter weather. It's cool to the touch, smooth, making the finished fabric lint-free. Also, linen gets softer the more it is washed. For extremely humid nights, linen can absorb a fair amount of moisture without making the fabric feel heavy or damp.
Egyptian Cotton Sheets are widely considered the gold standard in comfort. Egyptian cotton originates from Egypt's rich soil along the Nile River Valley, and is generally handpicked compared to using mass scale harvesting equipment. While Egyptian Cotton is highly absorbent, and can help when perspiration is present, it may give a slight damp feeling when over-saturated. Egyptian cotton has extra long staples (fibers) due to the humid weather in Egypt which means that there is more continuous fiber to use when creating threads or yarns. This yarn is smaller in diameter, yet stronger than standard cotton. Smaller yarn means that more threads per square inch can be use to create stronger fabric which is light in weight yet breathes extremely well.
Gel Memory Foam
Back in 1966, NASA's Ames Research Center was contracted to produce a safer air craft cushion. Gas was injected into a polymer matrix producing a foam with an open cell solid structure that would match pressure against it. Memory Foam was born! The material was quickly recognized by manufacturers in the sleep field where memory foam pillows, mattresses, and pads began production. However, memory foam has heat retaining properties which made it susceptible to hotter months. The first modification was to build vents into the pillow to help with breathability.
Further development produced Gel Memory Foam Pillows and Gel Memory Mattress Toppers. Gel particles and then gel beads were infused into the material. The Gel beads would change into a liquid state within the capsule to regulate temperature and ultimately alter the heat absorption memory foam would normally incur. The end result was the comfort of memory foam without the heat.
For those who want a natural alternative to gel memory foam, a Latex Pillow or mattress pad is an extremely nice option even in the summer. Latex is anti-microbial, hypoallergenic, and mildew resistant while also providing natural ventilation to keep you cool. It is also a material that naturally wicks away moisture or sweat.
Temperature Regulating Mattress Pads
If you truly want to control your sleep climate, how about doing so from the actual surface you are sleeping on? A study showed that people suffering from insomnia tended to have a higher body core temperature before bed supporting hyper-arousal. New Sleep Technology has introduced mattress pads that use water to bring the surface temperature from 55 to 110 Degree Fahrenheit. Similar to the semi-conductor that cools your computer, water passes by a chip and depending on the direction of electron flow, the water is cooled or heated. The water flows through soft coils in the mattress pad, actively adjusting the temperature of the surface. There is nothing but water flowing through the mattress pad; all temperature change happens in the control unit placed next to the bed. The motor is virtually silent, and is controlled in one degree increments with a hand held remote. The mattress pads can also come in sizes for Queen and King Mattresses where each side has independent temperature controls for each couples preference. Temperature Regulating Mattress Pads are a wonderful way to keep you cool at night while also saving on energy costs.
Air Coolers and Air Conditioners
If you have central air, you can monitor your sleep climate fairly easily. However, rising energy costs have made it unaffordable for many families to run their system all night. Air Coolers and Portable Air Conditioners are an easy, affordable way to lower the temperature in your bedroom. An Air Cooler does not require power hungry components like compressors. The low power consumption translates into significant savings on energy bills compared to using air conditioners. Simply place the cooler in front of an open door or window with the water tank full (add ice if desired), and ensure that there is adequate cross-ventilation in the room by leaving a door or window open opposite the cooler. Some systems even house carbon dust filters which cleanse the air while cooling it.
A portable Air Conditioner allows you to limit your central air usage by cooling just a single room, like the bedroom, when it is occupied. These unit do not require permanent installation and can be easily moved from room to room. Automatic timers can be utilized so that the unit runs only on your normal sleep/wake cycle.
The summer heat can bring challenges for anyone trying to maintain a health sleep schedule. Luckily there are some easy, natural ways to improve your sleep environment.
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