6 Ways to Stay Warm at Night Without a Heater
The weather outside is frightful, and cranking up the thermostat in your bedroom might feel delightful. But all that heat isn't exactly the greatest for your health. Hot, dry air can leave you with flaky skin, itchy eyes, a scratchy throat, and even nosebleeds (which is why we recommend sleeping with a humidifier).
Turning the heat way up may also drain your wallet. According to the United States Department of Energy (DOE), most families spend $2,200 a year on energy bills, with heating and cooling accounting for close to half of that amount. (The DOE also points out that heating costs more than any other system in your home.)
The best thing you can do? Lower the thermostat 10° to 15° overnight, as this will help save you about 10% a year on heating costs. It may also help you sleep better: The ideal temperature for quality sleep is between 60° and 67°F, per the National Sleep Foundation.
How to keep warm in bed without cranking up the heat
Dialing back the heat before bed doesn't have to leave you uncomfortably chilly. Here's how to strike an optimal balance between room temperature and comfortable sleep.
1. Switch to a cozier comforter
The right comforter is key to staying warm while you sleep. Look for one that's filled with down (the soft inner feathers of a duck or goose), as this is considered the gold standard of comforter fillings. On a budget? Synthetic fillings are a good option if you don't want to spend a ton on a new comforter. Gel fibers made from polyester deliver a soft, fluffy, and highly insulating comforter filling. And don't ditch your top sheet this time of year—it'll provide an extra layer of warmth and prevent you from having to frequently wash your comforter. (Not everyone likes top sheets—take our top sheet poll to let us know if you usually sleep with or without one.)
2. Use an electric mattress pad
An electric mattress pad offers a few advantages over an electric blanket when it comes to keeping warm. Your body and the sheet and blanket on top of you will hold in the heat from an electric mattress pad, whereas a lot of heat generated by an electric blanket simply radiates upward. Plus, an electric mattress pad is generally safer from overheating since it lies flat and won't get bunched up like a blanket. Read our guide to electric mattress pads to find the right one for you.
3. Wear socks to bed
Sleeping in socks has been scientifically proven to help people sleep better. A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that participants slept 37 minutes longer when they wore socks to bed versus when they didn't. If you tend to have cold extremities, wearing socks to bed helps regulate body temperature, a prerequisite for a good night's sleep.
4. Pre-heat your bedroom
Instead of turning on the central heat in your home at night, consider using a portable electric space heater to warm up the room before you go to sleep. Consumer Reports notes that using a space heater in the room you're in and keeping the rest of your house cooler can save you money. Just make sure to take proper safety precautions—according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), space heaters cause 43% of home heating fires in the U.S. The NFPA advises you to keep kids and pets away from your space heater, make sure that you never leave it unattended, and shut it off before you go to sleep.
5. Add an area rug to your bedroom
A shaggy area rug will not only make your bedroom look more winter-appropriate—it will also add a much-needed dose of warmth. Area rugs block cold air from below and also keep your feet from coming into contact with a chilly floor. Choose a thick rug with a tight weave to trap heat. As for materials, wool is a great insulator. (Here's how to create the perfect winter bedroom.)
6. Insulate windows
If you find yourself shivering in your apartment all the time, check the likeliest culprit: your windows. Insulating windows keeps drafts out and heat in so that you don't have to raise your thermostat and waste money unnecessarily.
There are a few simple ways to insulate windows: one of the easiest is to buy a window insulation kit, which comes with plastic shrink film that you apply to the inside of the window frame using double-sided tape. You can also use rope caulk to fill in any large gaps or spaces that could be letting cold air in. Covering your windows with thermal, insulated blackout curtains will also help keep your bedroom warm at night and make sleeping easier. Blackout curtains are designed to block out light, creating the optimal sleep environment.
Next, learn how to sleep better when you have a cold or the flu.