Getting Sleep On Hot Nights Without Air-conditioning: Low Carbon Living – Day 6

Day 6 of 365 Days Of Low Carbon Living.

I’m pretty lucky that where I live it usually cools off at night. That’s because of our distance from the coast (so we have a continental climate), our elevation and because we usually get a sea breeze in the early evening. The result: we usually sleep well in summer.

But what happens if it doesn’t cool off at night? That can happen because of where you live, because of a heatwave, or because the weather is changing as a result of damage to our climate – or any combination of them.

We are going to have to find ways of coping with hot nights more and more. One of the first consequences of damage to our climate was higher nighttime temperatures. On top of that we have the increasing frequency and severity of heatwaves. And, in many parts of the world (like Australia), our houses are not built to keep cool in the heat, or they are very energy inefficient, or both.

What I do

Cotton sheets are much cooler in the heat than those containing synthetics (eg polycotton).

I am aware of divided opinion about what to wear to bed when it’s hot. In my experience, light, loose, cotton summer sleepwear tends to be more comfortable than wearing nothing, presumably because the cotton absorbs any moisture and keeps hot body parts separated.

Leaving feet and ankles uncovered, even off the edge of the bed, helps air circulate around them. That’s one way of keeping cooler when the rest of you prefers the security of bedding. (Did you know that most newborns are wrapped because it makes them feel more secure, like being in the womb?)

Sometimes all that is not enough, though, and it’s just too hot to sleep well.

The simplest way to cool down is to dip your feet in cool water. Wetting up over your ankles helps the cool to reach the ankle pulse points, where a lot of blood is close to your skin. (Wetting other pulse points can be uncomfortable and leave your bed wet.)

If it’s still too hot, it’s time to take cooking efforts to the next level: a fan. We bought fans one hot summer when the sea breeze failed to materialise and instead the occasional night breezes came from another direction behind a hill that blocked them reaching us.

We use box or desk fans placed on a chair to bring them up to the level of the bed.

Personal preference then comes into play: Moving (rotating or side to side) fan or stationary? Constant or breeze effect?Personally, I find the fan works best if constant and directed at my feet. (It takes a little bit of trial and error but the effort is worth it.)

I find that enough to get through hot nights without air conditioning – and that’s from someone used to summer nights that are much cooler than days.


As I wrote in my last post, there are many reasons to live without air-conditioning – particularly the damage air-conditioning refrigerants do to our climate.

The challenge

Can we sleep without airconditioning this summer? Post a comment to let me know how are faring.

Join me!

Any change or challenge is easier if you have company along the way.

So let’s embark on this journey together.

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  • Commit to taking action yourself.
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A problem shared is a problem halved. We’re all affected by the changes to our world so we need to be all in on the action!

Till next time…