Warmer weather is great for many reasons, but sometimes sleeping too hot makes getting good sleep a challenge. Between humid, sticky air and record heat spikes, you might find yourself spending more time kicking the covers off and getting creative with fans.
If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, read our other sleep hygiene guides for helpful tips on how to improve your quality of sleep and wake up feeling rested every day.
And it makes sense. Science consistently shows that a cooler bedroom and environment results in better, deeper sleep. Around bedtime, our internal thermostats drop a little bit, which scientists believe plays a role in drowsiness. A cooler room is believed to encourage this effect.
Previously, we’ve covered how to find the coolest mattress (our pick was the Amerisleep Colonial plant-based memory foam bed, if you’re curious). Now, let’s look at the bedroom.
Sleeping Too Hot? Try These Creative Ways to Feel Cooler When It’s Toasty
If you find yourself sleeping too hot and in need of a cooler space, we have a few ideas to help. Below, a few ideas for getting the temperature down so you can sleep more comfortably on hot nights or when your internal furnace is running on overdrive.
Bring Down Your Body Temperature
Keeping your own body temperature down seems like a no brainer. A few habits leave you warmer than normal though, so take a look at your bedtime routine to make sure you’re optimized for coolness.
Take a Bath
Before you go to bed, take a tepid shower or bath. Plenty of sleep experts suggest this since it promotes relaxation and in turn helps you drift off easier. Some suggest it may help kick start the lowering of your body temperature, in turn signaling production of melatonin.
You don’t want to have one that is too cold, or it may produce the opposite effect by raising your temperature to overcompensate for the lost heat. Warming your skin slightly seems counterintuitive, but works by triggering your body’s natural cooling response.
If you are snacking in the hours before you go to sleep, opt for lighter meals that require low metabolic energy. So say no to proteins and fats, and instead go for raw fruits or vegetables or healthy carbs. One small study found spicy foods also disrupt sleep, so steer clear of the sriracha and jalapenos.
Your body has to work hard to metabolize, and digestion may raise body temperature ever so slightly. Don’t forget the cool water during the day, too.
A few other nighttime cooling hacks to squash the feeling of sleeping too hot:
- Going to bed with wet hair or misting your body with water.
- Leave your feet or one foot out of the sheets to let your skin breathe.
- Cooling you head will also help cool your body. Use a damp or frozen cloth in a plastic bag, or even a frozen water bottle to cool your head down, which will in turn cool down your body. Wrists are also good cooling points.
- If you are sleeping solo, go spread eagle so your skin has access to air on all sides.
- Hot flashes associated with menopause tend to make sleeping cool a challenge. If the above cooling tips don’t work, you may want to talk to your doctor.
Cool Your Room
The best sleeping temperature is somewhere between 60 and 72 degrees F, with 65 degrees often suggested by sleep pros. In summer, temperatures reach above 90 at night in many places, so achieving this often requires planning.
Air conditioning costs money and eco-friendliness is a concern for some, but you need good sleep. Your mood, mental state and health all rest on getting adequate sleep. If sleeping too hot prevents you from falling or staying asleep, then use it at least at night.
To save on energy costs, try a programmable thermostat. Some automatically drop to the perfect sleep temperature at bedtime and then raise back up in the morning as you wake.
Fans also help cool you down while you sleep. Pointing the fan so the airflow hits your body seems like a natural choice, but there are other fan placements that may work better.
When the outside air feels cooler at night than in your house, place your fan by an open window so that it draws the cooler air in.
You can also reverse your ceiling fan or point your standing fan out of the window to draw the hot air up, or out of your room. If you have a few fans, or a fan and an open window, join forces to create breezy cross ventilation. A pan of ice placed in front of a fan might also help boost the cooling.
Other Household Helpers
- Prevent the sun from heating up your bedroom during the day by keeping the curtains drawn or using thermal blinds.
- Plant trees near your bedroom window. One study found trees planted on west and south sides of California homes reduced summer energy costs by about $25 on average. Not mention, they also help the planet!
- On really hot days, avoid cooking in the house and instead opt to have a cold meal or outdoor barbeque. It might be a fun evening for a picnic in the park!
- Your electronic devices create heat while they are charging. Unplug or move them to another part of the house. Smartphones steal sleep anyways — better to keep them out of sight.
- Hot air rises, so you may find it cooler to sleep in a basement room on really hot nights. Or, even a hammock on the patio if that is an option!
Dress Your Bed (& Yourself) Right!
If sleeping too hot is a genuine problem for you, it’s time to take a serious look at your bed. Certain types of mattress materials hold heat more than others. Certain fabrics for sheets and pajamas also offer better breathability than others.
Make sure that your mattress offers good breathability to keep your body cool. Certain materials like closed-cell foams and temperature-reactive foams can be more likely to retain body heat.
Recent sleep innovations keep bringing healthier, more breathable mattresses into the marketplace. Next time you buy, check out ones made of open-cell plant-based material, which circulates air better around your body. Plant-based foams have also been show to breathe better than even gel foams.
Within the mattress covers, materials like organic cotton and wool allow foams to breath. More innovative fibers like Celliant (used in the Amerisleep brand mentioned prior) can take this a step further. Celliant actually draws excess body heat, using minerals to convert it to beneficial infrared waves that have been shown to boost circulation, promote healing and improve sleep.
Best Bedding for Hot Sleepers
For your sheets, look for natural fabrics such as cotton or bamboo. Natural fibers promote breathability and wick moisture away from you. Avoid flannel, satin, polyester and other synthetic fibers or save them for winter, as they restrict airflow.
Same goes for covers. Use a lightweight duvet or comforter with cotton or other natural fiber. Many bed sets use polyester, so read the label. Lightweight quilts or coverlets may be better if you live in an especially warm place.
As for pillows, some offer cooling technologies using special gel, buckwheat or rice that meant to keep your head, and your body cool. Open cell foams also work. Use cotton sateen or natural silk to keep the fabric feeling cool and airy.
For extreme heat, we found a few cool hacks for your bedding and pillows that might also help:
- Wet your sheets a little (a mister or the washing machine spin cycles works great for this) before putting them on your bed. Pair this with a fan for cooler-feeling air.
- Put both your pillows and sheets in the freezer for twenty minutes.
- Craft your own cooling neck support by filling a (clean!) sock with rice and storing it in the freezer until bedtime comes.
What you wear to be also influences how warm or cool you sleep. Reserve rayon, satin, flannel and the like for colder months. Crisp, cool cotton is likely your best bet.
Or, go buff. On one hand, natural fabric wicks away excess sweat. But on the other hand, sleeping in the buff removes an entire layer! Other benefits also come with this habit, like more intimacy.
The jury is out on whether sleeping in the nude, or wearing pajamas made from loose fitting, breathable fabric is the right choice though. We’ll leave this up to your own personal preference.
Share in the comments: What are your go to ways to snooze cool and avoid sleeping too hot?