The secret to keeping your bedroom cool on hot summer nights

It’s official – the chill of winter is just a memory and we can emerge from our warm, stuffy burrows to sniff the air and greet the sun. Although summer brings an invigorating feeling of freedom from bundling up in woolly layers and hogging the heater, clammy summer nights frequently impair effective sleep. Here’s how to keep cool in the bedroom and increase all-important rest time.

Love your linen

Bedlinen has a significant effect on sleep quality. In hot weather, the prime factors are breathability, and moisture-wicking, the ability of fabric to draw moisture from skin to outer layers of clothing or release it into the air. Natural fabrics are more effective at this than blends containing polyester or other synthetics. Cotton and linen are superb for breathability, and bamboo has superior moisture-wicking abilities.

Open wide

It’s been proven that a cool bedroom, around 18 to 20°C, promotes restful sleep, even in winter. A well-ventilated room is essential to prevent a stuffy atmosphere that gets warmer during the night. Without resorting to power-hungry air-con, try opening windows to take advantage of lower night temperatures and fresh air.

Tip: If bedroom windows are exposed to full sun during the day, keep them closed and curtains and blinds drawn to stop heat build-up. Open them when the sun goes down and temperatures drop.

Green your space

Indoor plants are useful for reasons other than their charm. Some plants have a positive effect on air quality, removing toxins and increasing oxygen and moisture content. The snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata), also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, is one of only a few plants that release oxygen into the air at night; it’s the perfect plant to have in your bedroom as you sleep.

Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens), also known as butterfly or golden cane palm, is a natural humidifier, ideal for an arid climate with hot dry air. Also consider placing therapeutic plants like lavender and jasmine within two square metres of your sleeping zone.

Did you know? In India, vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) grass roots are woven into window blinds and curtains. They are sprinkled with water and become a natural coolant when hot air passes through them. Sleeping nets are sometimes wrung out in vetiver water and draped over beds and windows for cooling, fragrant sleep. Vetiver grass plants are available from some organic herb farms and nurseries.

Lower the lights

All lights, including light from our technology, exude some heat, so keep reading lights low and turn off other appliances in the room, especially in a small bedroom. Low-wattage lighting in the cool blue spectrum is visually comfortable for bedrooms, so change globes if yours are bright and warm.

Tip: Candlelight may provide enough light to get ready for bed, though not for reading. A few tealights emit a negligible amount of heat – you’d need about 30 burning for several hours before any difference was noticed.

Colour for cool

Practise chromatherapy, the use of colour to create changes in mood. It’s well known that we react to different colours in unique ways. Colour consultant Jacquelene Symond says colour is one of the strongest stimuli we receive and one of the first things we see in any design, no matter how subtle. “Keep in mind the primary use of your space before choosing a colour palette,” Symond says. “Fire-engine red, for example, can be arousing and exciting, while light blue can be cooling and relaxing.” Paler blues heading towards grey are particularly soothing.

Join the fan club
Modern fans are becoming more and more efficient – quiet, stylish and brilliant at moving air around. Positioned where a sleeping body enjoys maximum cooling air movement, a fan is a good investment in comfort. A cheaper option is a small standing bedside fan – there are some very cute ones out there, and they add a hint of retro to decor.

Tip: Direct a fan at damp muslin fabric laid over you as you sleep – it’s deliciously cool!

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