Loved the Scandinavian Sleep Method? Try these 7 hacks for cleaner, better sleep

Scandinavian sleep hacks image shows a woman sleeping next to a man under two duvets recently aired outside in cold temperatures
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Scandinavians are among the happiest and most well-rested humans on the planet, so we can look to them with confidence for advice on how to improve our sleep habits. And with one in three Americans admitting to not getting enough sleep every night, there’s certainly room for improvement.

Sleep deprivation has health consequences that stretch far beyond nodding off at our desks at 3pm. In the short term sleep deprivation can impair cognitive function, and in the long term it can impact our cardiovascular health. Investing in the best mattress for your body is a great step towards comfier, deeper sleep, but there are other ways to improve your shut-eye too. 

Scandinavians know that getting good quality sleep is hugely important to our overall health, and Happy Beds has shared a list of seven of the best Scandinavian sleep hacks to improve your sleep tonight, so here we take a look at each hack to see if it really works or not.

The 7 best Scandinavian sleep hacks to try tonight

1. Air your duvet outside every week  

Do as the Scandinavians do and air your comforter (or duvet or doona) outside for five hours every week. Our comforters harbor all sorts of unpleasantries, including dust mites (and their feces), dead skin cells, moisture and bacteria. Airing yours outside can help keep bedding fresh and clean — as well as improve your sleep.

Pests like dust mites thrive in warm, moist environments, so airing your comforter outside during the cool months prevents your bed from becoming a bacterial breeding ground. There are benefits to airing your comforter during the summer months, too — the UV rays from the sun kills mold, mildew and bacteria.

What’s more, sleeping under a cool comforter promotes quality sleep by keeping temperatures regulated and preventing overheating.

2. Air your pillows too

Two pillows are drying on a clothes airer outside after being washed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the same way that airing your comforter outside can help rid your bed of pests like dust mites and eradicate mold and mildew, your pillows will benefit from the same treatment. While you should wash your pillows often, regular UV exposure from the sun will help prevent the buildup of unsightly yellow pillow stains created by moisture and oil from our skin and hair.   

3. Drink your morning coffee while walking 

Scandinavians are renowned for embracing the outdoors, whatever the weather. Many Scandinavians make it a habit to enjoy their tea or coffee outside, even braving minus 20-degree weather for the experience. 

This is because spending time outdoors helps maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, otherwise known as your internal 24-hour body clock that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Studies show that even just 20 minutes of daylight can improve sleep quality. 

However, as caffeine has a half-life of between five and nine hours, you wouldn’t catch a Scandinavian having an alfresco coffee after lunchtime. 

4. Visit your local sauna — but time it just right  

In Finland, saunas are an integral part of the cultural experience and enjoying one within a two hour window of your bedtime could help you fall asleep faster. When you enter a sauna, your body initiates a fight-or-flight response, directing blood flow to the skin to cool down, resulting in significant sweating. Exiting the sauna prompts a rapid cooldown, lowering your core temperature and signaling to your brain and body that it's time for sleep.

5. No sauna? Have a hot bath instead

Don’t worry if you don’t have a sauna to hand, a nice hot bath once or twice a week is scientifically proven to provide similar sleep-inducing benefits. A steamy bath one hour before bedtime will initiate the winding down process for better sleep.

The image shows a woman's hand emerging from a hot bath to run under the cold tap

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You could even consider adding a few drops of calming essential oils like lavender, chamomile, or eucalyptus to your bath to help lower cortisol levels, or just as part of your nighttime routine. The combination of warm water, steam, and aromatherapy creates a more cost-effective approach to relaxation than a sauna but still has many of the same sleep-related benefits.

6. Leave you bedroom window open before bed 

Yes, even in winter. Scandinavians keep their bedroom window open for at least 15 minutes before bedtime in order to create the best temperature for sleeping, which a new study suggests is between 20 and 25 °C (68 and 77 F). 

Creating a chilly sleep environment is a firm part of Nordic culture, with many babies in Sweden, Finland and Denmark sleeping outside in their prams, even in freezing conditions. 

You don’t have to sleep outside, but keeping your bedroom window open for at least 15 minutes before bedtime allows cool, fresh air to circulate, which mimics the core temperature drop our bodies experience shortly before falling asleep. 

7. Sleep under separate duvets 

Whether you want to call it a comforter, duvet, quilt or doona, the Scandinavian Sleep Method involves you and your partner sleeping under separate ones. They could be different togs, weights or fabrics, but it is essential that you and your partner each have your own blanket that suits your specific sleep needs to sleep under. 

Studies show that bed sharing increases the amount of time in the deeply restorative sleep stage, REM. And, without the nightly tug-of-war for the blanket, you’re less likely to wake up during the night, which means even more time in REM — win, win. 

Nicola Appleton
Sleep Features Editor

Nicola Appleton is Sleep Features Editor at Tom’s Guide, specialising in quality news content surrounding sleep and wellbeing. Nicola cut her teeth as a journalist in a busy newsroom in Bristol, UK, 15 years ago as part of a team at Britain's largest independent press agency. Since then, her job as a journalist has taken her to the States, to Sydney, and then back to Blighty, where she has written and edited features for a whole host of prominent British and international brands, including  The Independent, The Sydney Morning Herald, HuffPost, Refinery29, Stylist and more. As well as tackling the vast topic of sleep, Nicola will be joining the raft of expert mattress reviewers at Tom's Guide, helping steer readers towards the very best mattresses on the market.