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12 Tricks to Survive Hot Summer Nights (Without AC)

by Carla Ditzel, Jul 2018

We’ve all been there—tossing and turning in bed.  IT. IS. AWFUL.

There are few things worse than trying to catch some ZZZ’s (or even just relax!) in an incredibly hot, sticky room.  But brutal summer temperatures are unavoidable for most of us at some point in the year, like now.  So how to cool down a room without AC…  It is possible!

A few quick tips and trips, some of which you’ve probably never heard, can mean the difference between a sleepless night in a sauna and some blissful sleep.

Living through a hot summer without AC seems impossible but, hey, our grandparents survived the heat.  It turns out, they learned a few things in the process.  Here are some tried and tested DIY strategies for how to stay cool in summer.

Cool as a Cucumber—How to Beat the Heat

1.       Choose cotton

Save the ooh-la-la satin, silk, or polyester sheets for cooler nights.  Light-colored bed linens made of lightweight cotton (Egyptian or otherwise) are breathable and excellent for promoting ventilation and airflow in the bedroom.

2.       Freezers are friends

Stick pillowcases/sheets in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes before bed.  Place them in a plastic bag first, unless eu de Findus Crispy Pancakes is your fave aroma (other branded crispy pancakes are available).  Granted, this won’t keep you cool all night, but it will provide a brief respite from heat and humidity.  Sounds bonkers, but it works!

3.       Get cold comfort

Here’s a four-seasons tip for keeping utility charges down: Buy a hot water bottle.  In winter, fill it with boiling water for toasty toes without cranking the thermostat.  During summer, stick it in the freezer to create a bed-friendly ice pack.

4.       Sleep like an Egyptian

If there seem to be a lot of Egyptian references in this list, it’s because those Nile-dwellers knew how to do it right.  The so-called “Egyptian Method” involves dampening a sheet or towel in cool water and using it as a blanket.  We recommend laying the damp sheets on top of a dry towel to avoid soaking the mattress.

5.       Get loose

Less is definitely more when it comes to summertime PJ’s.  Pick a loose, soft cotton shirt and shorts or underwear.  Going full-on starko during a heatwave is (unsurprisingly) controversial.  Some people believe it helps keep them cool, while others claim going “au natural” means sweat stays on the body instead of being wicked away by fabric.  What if there was a fire though?  The jury’s out on this one!

6.       Create a cross-breeze

Position a fan across from a window, so the wind from outside and the fan combine in a cooling cross-breeze.  Feeling fancy?  Go buck-wild and set up multiple fans throughout the room to make the airflow even more boisterous.  Marilyn Monroe-esque.

7.       Pamper your pulses

To chill out super-fast, apply ice packs or cold compresses to pulse points at the wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles, and behind the knees.

8.       Be a starfish – if you can’t be a unicorn, always be a starfish!

Sorry love bugs, but sleeping alone is the way forward.  Spooning is a winter activity.  Cuddling with a partner increases body heat, making the bed a sticky, sweaty pit of despair instead of a cool, calm oasis.  Urgghhhh….

9.       Stay hydrated

Drink a large glass of water before bed.  Tossing and turning and sweating at night can result in dehydration, so get some H20 in the tank beforehand.  (Pro tip: Just 300ml will do the trick, unless you’re really into those 3 a.m. bathroom runs.)

10.     Cool off

A cold shower takes on a whole new meaning come summertime.  Rinsing off under a stream of tepid H20 brings down the core body temperature and rinses off sweat (ick) so you can hit the hay feeling cool and clean.

11.     Encourage cold feet

Those ten little piggies are pretty sensitive to temperature because there are lots of pulse points in the feet and ankles.  Cool down the whole body by soaking/showering feet in cold water before hitting the hay.

12.    Unplug at night.

Disconnect electronics, gadgets and other small appliances that give off heat (even when turned off).  Reduce heat in the house (and save energy!) by keeping plugs out of sockets when the appliances are not in use.


I don’t know about you, but I’m off to stick my sheets in the freezer!