We all need a few good tips to keep cool in the summer. Summer is a wonderful time, full of family fun on holidays, day-long picnics with friends both plain and furry, and all the wondrous promise that the season always holds in store for us all. Summer, however, is also hot. Long, sweaty nights, mornings when hot coffee does us no favours, and afternoons when we just can’t seem to get cool are just a few of the things that we really don’t look forward to in the summer. Read on for some age-old and some new and interesting tips for how to stay cool so you can enjoy the summer months to their full extent.
Oldies but Goodies
It might be hard to think of surviving the summer without air conditioning, but we have to remember the many generations who went through life without this energy-sucker. They had some real cool tips on how to keep cool, and we can take a page out of their book!
- Ensure proper airflow in the bedroom – It may not always be a good idea to leave the windows wide open at night if you don’t live in a safe neighbourhood. Opening windows and doors in key areas of your home to create a through-draft, however, can still help a lot. You know where the cold air gets in in the winter, so you can take advantage of this in the summer. Check wind patterns as well so you know where the breeze will be coming from and can experiment with channeling it throughout the home – or at least into the key rooms of the house. If you need some help, set up fans to facilitate airflow. This works really well for people who don’t enjoy having a fan pointed directly at them during sleep.
- Hang wet sheets around the house – Short of sleeping with a wet sheet over your body, you can hang wet sheets in front of windows to keep cool. This trick works when you hang them where the breeze comes into a room to help cool down the air around you.
- Freeze your beddings – If your sheets still feel too warm when you get into bed, try putting them in the freezer. Just wrap your folded sheets up in a plastic bag and leave them in the freezer for about 10-20 minutes before bedtime. They will stay dry but come out nice and cool. This will help you get to sleep even though they won’t stay cool for long.
- Sleep on a bamboo bed, without a mattress – Bamboo is a really flexible material, and makes an amazingly comfortable bed. The pliable bamboo moves under your body providing just enough resistance to support you without making sleep uncomfortable. The bamboo is also laid out on the bed to provide air spaces in between so your body can breathe and keep cool. Hot air rises, and these beds are made close to the ground, so you can lay where the air is coolest. If you really need a cushion, lay down a fluffy comforter and use this as your mattress. The fluffy material will allow the air to pass through so you can still get the cooling benefits of this traditional tropical slatted bed. If this idea doesn’t suit you, you can also try a hammock, which is another tropical wonder built for comfort and coolness.
- Use fans to blow hot air away and icy air at you – We are accustomed to using fans to blow air at us, but when it really gets hot, all this does is blow HOT air at us! Turn your fans around so they suck the hot air out of a room. This also works with ceiling fans when you reverse the airflow so they pull hot air up instead of pushing it down on you. If you need to feel the wind, you can also opt to buy a chunk of ice to use as a home-made air conditioner. Place the ice in front of your fan and let it blow the coolness of the evaporating ice in your direction.
The oldies sure are goodies, but our modern world has a few new tricks to offer as well. Science has discovered a few cool things about our bodies and some new materials that can save us from the dizzying summer heat.
- Ice your pulse – To cool down fast when the heat gets crazy, apply an ice pack or a bag with a few ice cubes in it to your pulse points. Cooling down your neck, wrists, elbows, groin, backs of your knees, ankles and toes will bring down your body temperature fast. It also takes only a few minutes and is really easy to do.
- Shower before bed – Many of us like to go to bed feeling fresh, and it is oh so much more comfortable to be clean when it’s hot! Take a shower before bed, optimally with lukewarm water. This will take off the sweat and dirt that can act as an insulator, and will bring down your body’s temperature so you can fall asleep cool and keep cool longer.
- Fill your hot water bottle with ice water, or put a hot/cold pack in the freezer – You can put this winter essential to good use on warmer days by putting cold water in it, or putting it in the freezer. If you have a hot / cold gel pack, put it in the freezer in the morning and have it nice and icy at bedtime. Put it under your pillow or line up a few along the bed to get it nice and crispy cool for when you are ready to lie down. Sleeping cool is important for health, so this solution is not only comfortable but can help you get better rest. If you don’t have cold packs handy, freeze a few bags of rice or buckwheat and use these as pillows and cold packs. They retain cold remarkably well and will also keep moisture away from your body.
- Use naturally cooling materials for clothing and bedding – The best material to have next to your skin on hot days is bamboo fabric. It is, incidentally, also great in cool weather, so you can make the most out of this purchase. Bamboo is highly absorbent and insulating, keeping the heat away. It also has natural wicking properties that pull moisture away from the skin and allow it to evaporate faster. Bamboo fabric is the most breathable natural fabric known to man. It doesn’t stick to the body even in humid weather. The second best option is pure cotton, which is also highly breathable and has some wicking properties. Not even Egyptian cotton, known as the king of cottons, however, can match up to bamboo fabric.
- Use cool gel technology – Our world offers us cool gel, a wonderful material that works to help the body keep cool during sleep. Using cool gel pillows and mattress toppers can help a great deal to keep you cool when it’s time for bed. They also make great additions to your living area during the summer, or to throw on the floor for cool sessions of lounging around low, where the air is coolest.
- Sleep alone – As unromantic as this is, you will stay much cooler if you don’t have another warm body heating up your air space. You or your partner can move to the guest bedroom during the hottest weeks, or use an awesome bamboo memory foam mattress topper on the living room floor – or even in the cool basement! – for a deliciously comfortable and cool sleep. This way, both of you can sleep spread-eagle to keep all your limbs cool and roll over to find that sweet cold spot throughout the night.
- Stay hydrated – There have been some amazing discoveries about good old plain water in this
century, and one of these is its cooling benefits. Drinking plenty of water and not just any fluids can greatly increase your body’s ability to keep cool. We usually don’t like to drink water at bedtime because it could result in a very inconvenient trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night. During hot nights, however, our bodies need that extra glass water to stay hydrated as we sweat during sleep.
- Stay away from heat sources – This may sound self-explanatory, but there are many heat sources in the modern home that we would not think to keep far from us. Lights are one heat source that we often forget about because we don’t normally feel the amount of heat they are generating. During summer, this small amount can mean a great deal. Another, bigger source of heat are our appliances. We tend to forget that they are plugged in because they are usually in the kitchen or laundry room, far away from our bedrooms. But if they are generating heat, then they are surely contributing to sweaty sleep! Gadgets are undoubtedly the worst sources of heat that we usually ignore, this time because we are so addicted to our music, games, calendars and communications! It is definitely a good idea to unplug especially during those hot nights, however, since gadgets can give off loads of heat, and we normally have them right next to us!
Hope these tips help you to KEEP COOL this summer season!