Ayurvedic Tips for Sleeping Better on Hot Summer Nights

Kripalu School of Ayurveda

I love summer—but I’m not always grateful for a sweltering apartment when I go home at night. I look to Ayurveda for practices that will balance out the heat, so I can get a decent night’s rest.

Here are my favorite Ayurvedic tips for staying cool on hot summer nights.

Take a cool shower before bed.
I learned this from yoga teacher Lee-Ann Trigler. Now, you don’t have to be all Wim Hoff about this and plunge into ice-cold baths on a regular basis,  but an occasional cold shower before bed on a hot night totally works. I call it “nature’s air-conditioning.” I start with lukewarm water and gradually turn the faucet all the way to cold. Cooling off your heart, belly, and back tends to be particularly refreshing. If you are feeling especially irritated and agitated, you can also rinse your head under the cold water.

Unwind with a coconut-oil foot massage.
Ayurveda loves her some oil … but not slathered all over the body when it’s hot and humid. As nice as an oil massage is in cold, dry winter, in the summer it might make you feel heavy and sticky. That being said, a coconut-oil foot massage can feel luxurious and grounding. Coconut oil is cooling in nature, so it will not overheat you. I keep a small jar of it by my bed to use on my skin when it’s not too humid and to massage on my feet at night. It’s deeply relaxing and can help promote a good night’s sleep. It only takes about five minutes to massage the feet. Take your time, lengthen your breath, and settle into a state of calm.

Sleep on cotton sheets with a high thread count.
I love soft cotton sheets. They breathe, they are comfortable, and they are cooling, qualities that balance the hot, intense, irritated qualities of pitta. Cotton, unlike microfiber, allows heat to escape the body. Also, consider your sheet’s color. Choose lighter hues such as whites, creams, or ocean blues. Dark colors can absorb light and heat from the sun during the day, while light colors will reflect the light.  

Slip into your birthday suit.
Sleep in the nude. It works! After your cold shower, slide into those soft sheets for sheer refreshment. Why add an extra layer when it is 90-plus degrees out? If you do wear pajamas, choose breathable cotton.

Fan away the flames.
Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with fans. My ideal sleeping condition is pitch-black and dead silent. So, summer poses a couple of problems for me. I have to keep my shades open at night, which invites in glaring light, and I have a fan on to circulate air, which makes noise. I make up for this by keeping a cooling, lavender-filled eye mask handy to block out the light, and earplugs to block out the sound. I also have a ceiling fan and a window fan blowing on me simultaneously. Here’s an interesting fact: Most ceiling fans have two different directions—one for summer and one for winter. During the summer, you want the fan to blow air straight down, which means that your ceiling fan needs to run counterclockwise. The warmer it is, the higher the speed should be. During the winter, your fan should run at a low speed in a clockwise direction.

So, if summer has you overheated, I feel you, and I hope these tips will help you stay well rested so you can fully enjoy the season.

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Erin Casperson, Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, is passionate about sharing how the ancient practices of Ayurveda can be applied to modern-day living.

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