6 Ways To Make Your Bedroom Instantly Feel Cooler In The Summer Heat
Achieving the sleep of our dreams (and the daytime productivity of our fantasies) starts with the right mindset; racing, anxious thoughts from the day will only make it harder to relax. Routine matters too; drinking caffeine or alcohol, eating rich foods, and scrolling through social media before bed can mess with rest. Finally, one of the most important determinants of sleep quality is the bedroom itself. The ideal sleep space is dark, quiet, and cold—ideally around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
"In the outdoor conditions in which we evolved, the temperature drops at night. That drop is part of many contextual factors that cause us to feel sleepy," holistic psychiatrist and sleep expert Ellen Vora, M.D., previously told mbg of the importance of a chilly bedroom. As the night goes on, research also shows that warmer temperatures can decrease sleep quality4 by increasing wake-ups5 and keeping us from reaching the later sleep stages wherein the majority of rest and repair happens.
Clearly, achieving the right temperature is essential for sleep—and it's much easier to do during the dark, cold nights of winter than the hot and sunny days of summer.
Instead of resigning yourself to frequent wake-ups and groggy mornings this season, follow these designer-approved tips for crafting a stylish bedroom that's cool and comfortable:
Layer your bedding.
While chunky duvets are wonderful for winter, lighter blankets are easier to layer during summer. "Not only does this add texture to the room, but it creates a versatile sleeping arrangement suitable for all seasons," says Emma Sims Hilditch, founder and creative director at Sims Hilditch Interior Design.
Choose the right materials.
Light, breathable bedding is ideal for stylish summer layering, so swap out flannels and fleece for cotton or linen textiles that won't trap as much heat. Alessandra Wood, the VP of style for online interior design service Modsy, is partial to percale, a cotton weave that is tight yet breathable and tends to be cooler to the touch.
Interior stylist Emeli Ericsson adds that bedding in light, breezy colors can add to the cooling, inviting effect. Bring on those light blues, pale grays, crisp whites, cool greens, and dusty pinks.
Keep dark blinds down, with the windows open.
If you have some leeway on where to put your bed, Sims Hilditch recommends placing it so it faces away from the morning sun. If space doesn't allow and you're stuck waking up to a bright, south-facing window, blackout blinds can help block heat and light (another major sleep disrupter).
After living in a home without central air conditioning, Wood has experimented with many ways to draw the blinds to keep the bedroom from becoming a sauna. "The most impactful way to keep my home cool seems to be keeping the shades closed to block out the sun while also having the windows open to allow for airflow," she's concluded.
Craft your own shaded retreat.
If your bedroom gets lots of summer sun but you don't want to shell out for blackout curtains, Ericsson says you can also shield your sleeping area using a chic screen. Natural materials like bamboo or rice paper make for a light, dreamy one that can easily be moved with the sun for midday napping. To further call in the cooling elements of nature, she says you can decorate the area around your screen with palm leaves, seashells, or driftwood to evoke an ocean breeze.
Achieve a cross breeze using fans.
While air conditioners are the holy grail of cooling, strategically placed fans can also help keep temperatures down and improve airflow. "Fans help distribute air throughout a space and can help keep a more consistent temperature. When you're using AC, you'll usually notice cold pockets, but fans can help distribute this air around the room," Wood says.
To create a cross breeze in your bedroom at night, set up one fan to blow in the direction of your bed and the other to blow out your window. If temperatures outside are colder than they are inside, this can cool things off slightly by blowing warm air out of your room. Ceiling fans can also be helpful here; just make sure yours is running in a counterclockwise direction so it's blowing cool air down instead of pulling it up.
Top things off with cooling essential oils.
While they won't change the physical temperature of a room, certain essential oils have cooling scents that can also help promote sleep. Ericsson recommends diffusing a few drops of lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, vetiver, sandalwood, or a combination of two or three of them next to your bed for sweet, cool dreaming.
The bottom line.
Setting up a cold bedroom for sleep is an investment in your mood and energy levels. While it can be tough to do in summer if you don't have AC, these quick hacks can help cool things down while amping up your room's style.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.