Tips for getting a cool night's sleep

One way to improve sleep in the summer

One way to improve sleep in the summer is to reduce the ambient heat in your bedroom, and a simple option is to increase air movement. (July 30, 2013) (Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile)

In winter, "warm and cozy" is just right for sleeping. But in summer, heat and humidity can make sleeping difficult. Of course, certain medicines and health concerns can also cause sleepers to feel hot at night. Whatever the problem, there are ways to get a cool night's rest.

AMBIENT HEAT

One of the first ways to improve sleep in the summer is by reducing the ambient heat in your bedroom. One simple option is to increase air movement. Ceiling and oscillating fans are good options, but they can be noisy. Although pricey ($300), the Dyson Air Multiplier moves air without the buffeting that makes fans so loud. This device is easy to clean and has no dangerous blades.

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A portable room air conditioner is another handy choice. These free-standing units are ideal if you don't have a window air conditioner or central air or if temperatures are extra hot. Vented out a window and rolled close to the bed, portable air conditioners can provide extra cooling power. Keeping a room cool is easier, too, with shades or curtains that block sunlight. Keep the bedroom as dark as possible and avoid hot showers close to where you're sleeping. Added humidity makes the room feel warmer than it actually is.

A COOL SLEEP

Look carefully at the kind of sheets you're sleeping on. Stiff percale sheets in 100 percent cotton are the coolest. Percale won't drape and cling to your body like soft, high-thread-count sheets, which stop the air circulation that keeps you cooler.

Special sheets like the CoolMax brand are helpful if you're prone to night sweats or just perspire heavily. These all-polyester sheets are moisture wicking and fast drying. They're not cheap ($300) or necessarily easy to find, but can be a good choice if perspiration is a serious issue. Try homeclick.com for products.

Cooling mattress pads can also be placed on the bed to bring down nighttime temps. Some beds tend to stay warmer than others, such as foam-topped beds, and these pads could be the answer for a more comfortable night's sleep. Starting at around $100, these pads go over a traditional mattress and help regulate body heat during sleep. Coolingmattress.com is one source for the pads.

Then there's the ChiliPad, a water-circulating mattress pad that allows you to set the temperature you find most comfortable. At around $400, the ChiliPad both heats and cools, so it might be a good way to keep the thermostat at a lower setting in winter and higher in summer.

COOLER HEADS

The last line of defense against heat at night could be your pillow. Frequent pillow flipping to find the cool side can disturb your sleep. Opt for cool pillows like IsoCool ($37 at jcp.com) or Serta Cool Gel ($25 for two at walmart.com). Both are designed to dissipate heat and help you sleep better.

Of course, you can always invest in a mattress that's specially made for cooler sleep. Serta's iComfort mattress has a gel-based memory foam designed to stay cool.

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