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Sleeping hot in your dorm room? Here’s how to cool it down

Open the windows, turn on those fans, and maybe upgrade your bedding.

Person sitting on bed next to next to books, in front of oscillating fan. Credit: Reviewed / Emily Northroop / Getty Images / DragonImages

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For busy students, it’s important to fit a good night’s sleep into a packed schedule of classes and socializing. But college rooms, even if they’re filled with all the dorm essentials, could lack the right environment and temperature to beat the heat for a restful sleep. From hot weather to even hotter radiators, dorm rooms can hold in heat like an oven, leaving you and your roommates wondering how to stay cool at night.

Luckily, we’ve got three easy tips on how to cool down a room, in any season or climate.

1. Open a window to get some airflow

Cartoon graphic window of wind flowing into a room.
Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / Devita ayu Silvianingtyas

Create a refreshing airflow in your dorm room with a open window.

This one might seem obvious, but simply opening a window is a great place to start when your dorm room is too warm or stuffy. Assuming it’s cooler outside, even just a crack can provide airflow into your room without having to use a fan or provide a cross breeze. In the winter, many dorms crank up those radiators to keep rooms warm and toasty, so if you don’t have control over how warm your heater gets (or the ability to turn on an AC unit), opening the window can let in cold air to help you balance the temperature to something more suitable for sleep.

However, because letting the sunlight in can also make a room hotter, we suggest keeping those blinds closed as much as possible while your window is open. That way, you’ll get the cooler air without the heat of the sun. If your window doesn’t come with any sort of shades, opt for the Amazon Basics Room Darkening Blackout Window Curtains, our best value pick from the best blackout curtains we’ve tested. They’ll make a room pitch-dark without breaking a tight budget.

$35 from Amazon

2. Introduce fans into the space—but use them strategically

Cartoon graphic of small pink oscillating fan blowing out cool air.
Credit: Reviewed / Emily Northrop / Getty Images / Shutthiphong Chandaeng

Some fans can do more harm than good, just circulating the same air back and forth.

Surprise: Fans may not cool down a room if used improperly. Even the best fans can simply spread warm air around rather than make you feel appreciably cooler.

However, setting up a fan in front of an open window can be useful in dorm rooms, especially if you don’t have air conditioning, either to blow cool air from outside into the room or to face out as an exhaust fan to remove warmer air.

We’ve tested the best fans and love the Lasko 3300 fan, for a low-cost option that offers a strong wind speed and volume. Though it can be noisy, you might appreciate the bonus white noise to drown out late-night quad parties when you’re trying to get some shuteye.

You may also opt to use other fans, like tower fans or desk fans, elsewhere in your room, too, especially if you don’t have access to a ceiling fan. But again, you want to keep the airflow of the overall space in mind when placing them near your bed or workspace to ensure cooler airflow reaches you wherever you are in your dorm.

If you’re looking for a tower fan, the Honeywell QuietSet is a good choice for way less than, ahem, the fan favorite from Dyson. The best affordable option for a desk fan is the Vornado Pivot personal fan, which offers powerful wind speeds from the front of the fan and doesn’t make too much noise to break your concentration while studying.

$68 from Amazon

$20 from Amazon

For college students worried about dry air from a fan or stuffy heat in the winter, adding a humidifier can be extra helpful. We’ve found that the best humidifiers quickly add moisture to the air, run quietly, and have great output throughout the night. Our testers’ top pick is the Levoit Classic 300S, which has great output, capacity, and remains quiet throughout the night.

$82 from Amazon

3. Try some cooling bedding

Cartoon graphic of thermometer next pillow.
Credit: Reviewed / Emily Northrop / Getty Images

Cooling sleep products like the TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow can use gel technology to keep you cool throughout the night.

If the dorm room’s air temperature is cool enough but you’re still dealing with warm body temperatures, adding certain temperature-regulating pillows and sheets can help make getting a good night’s rest easier.

We love the Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow, which our tester praised as a firm, supportive, and heat-diffusing pillow that could help even the hottest sleepers.

It’s a great option for someone looking for a cool pillow that still supports a variety of sleeping positions. The only downsides are that the pillow is an investment at $200 and it can’t go in the washer, so make sure you cover it with a pillow protector so it may last beyond your college years.

$200 from TempurPedic

Changing the sheets you sleep on can also help. Cotton sheets feel cooler than other materials such as flannel or microfiber, making them a great option. Linen sheets can keep you cool, too, and they often feel lighter and softer than cotton. But linen can run more expensive than cotton, and let’s face it: Those dorm room bed sheets aren’t long-term investments.

We’ve found that the best twin XL cotton sheets, the Home Reflections sheets set, sleep cool, launder well, and remain durable throughout wear and tear.

$66 from QVC

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