Too Hot to Sleep?

11+ Tips to Stay Cool at Night While Sleeping When It’s Too Hot Outside

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Taking a nap in a hot summer drought

Key Takeaways

  • The material of your bedding impacts your sleep temperature. Thicker, warmer bedding is ideal for the winter months, while lighter bedding is ideal for the summer and spring.
  • The internal temperature of your house should also play a factor in your sleep. Keep doors open to allow air from other areas to flow through, and call a professional to assess your air conditioner.
  • If you wear tight pajamas, you will trap warmer air against your body, making your internal temperature even hotter. Consider wearing thinner, looser sleep clothes that allow your body to breathe more.
  • The foods and drinks you consume will immediately impact your internal body temperature. Alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods will disrupt your natural sleeping pattern throughout the night.
  • Taking a warm bath or shower before bed will help you fall asleep quicker. Avoid taking cold or hot showers.
  • Weirdly effective tip: When you are about to go to bed, put your socks in the freezer, and when it is time to crawl into bed, put the sheets down and relax.

The summer heat wave is no joke and it’s probably affecting your sleep. You invest a lot of time in rest, making it even more important to keep your body temperature low. This article will educate you on several tips and tricks on how to stay cool at night while sleeping, the factors that affect sleep temperature, and other ways to design your sleeping space.

We analyzed several medical journals, forums, and sleep experts to compile a list of actionable items to stay cool at night while sleeping in hot weather. While there are factors you cannot control, we focused on the valuable behaviors you can implement today.

Quality sleep is essential, especially during a heat wave. If you want to skip to an informational section, here is a rundown of what we will discuss:

Now that you know what to expect, let’s start with the key factors that affect sleep temperature. While we provide several tips, all these decisions roll up into the three key factors.

Key Factors That Affect Sleep Temperature

Before diving into the tips for cooler sleep, there are three main factors that affect sleep temperature: bedding material, room temperature, and existing health conditions. Let’s take a look at each of these elements individually.

Bedding Material

Your bedding comforts you as you sleep through the night, which is why the material impacts your sleep temperature. The thinner the material, the cooler you will sleep at night. Thicker, warmer bedding is ideal for the winter months. The materials contain your body heat more effectively.

However, you should have an alternative set of thin bedding materials to comfort you during the summer and spring. You can switch to the lighter bedding when it starts to warm up. Investing in cooling bed materials for a pressing heat wave would also be wise.

Bedroom Temperature

The temperature is already hot outside, so the internal temperature of your house should also play a factor in your sleep. Your house design, airflow, and current air conditioner will all contribute to the temperature in your room. Sleeping with the door open can increase airflow to make your room cooler. A defective air conditioner could also prevent air from comforting you at night.

Your house design is not something you can easily change, but you can monitor your airflow and air conditioner. Make sure to keep doors open to allow air from other areas to flow through. Whether you are confident or not, call a professional to assess your air conditioner. When the heat wave comes, you will be grateful that you checked on this ahead of time.

Health Conditions

Sweating while you sleep is one thing. You can adjust environmental conditions like bedroom temperature, clothes, and sheets. However, night sweats are a condition stemming from various health factors. Night sweats cause heightened perspiration, causing the sweat to filter through your clothing and bedding.

Whether you are sure or not, it would be best to speak with a doctor or medical professional. Obtaining an opinion from an expert is a wise move that will put your mind at peace.

Tips to Stay Cool While You Sleep

Achieving optimal sleep requires consistency, cleverness, and commitment to long-term health. Many of the items below are small habits you can build into your routine. We would not recommend implementing them all at once. Instead, it would be best to ease them in naturally.

Dress in Cool Clothes or Pajamas

Your clothes and pajamas play a massive role in trapping air against your body. If you wear tight pajamas, you will trap the warmer air against your body, making your internal temperature even hotter. While the clothes might seem comfortable when falling asleep, the feel can always change over an 8-hour span. You could experience more sweating without knowing it.

Think about wearing thinner, looser sleep clothes that allow your body to breathe more. There are many moisture-wicking shorts or pants that will also prevent any excess sweating. Consider sleeping in shorts, short-sleeve shirts, or shirtless to keep yourself cold.

Hydrate

Drinking a cup of cold water is critical in attaining a cool night’s sleep. You could use a glass of ice cubes or a cold bottle of water. Ensure that the bottle is accessible from your sleeping position in case you need to grab it in the middle of the night. However, you should always hydrate yourself before falling asleep.

There are several health reasons why drinking water before bed will help you sleep better. Because you sleep for 6-10 hours at a time, your body is not drinking water. Therefore, it is essential to drink this water before going to bed. Water also helps remove harmful toxins from the body. If you deal with a cold or sickness, you can also add lemon to the water for even better effects.

One important thing to mention here is hydration throughout the day. You should always drink enough water throughout the day to prevent dehydration. However, you should also drink an ideal amount to not overdrink at night before bed. Here are some specific ways you can hydrate throughout the day, enabling you to sleep better at night:

  • Drink a cup of water with every meal or snack
  • Drink water before and after a workout, exercise, or walk
  • Boost your fruit and vegetable intake since they already contain a lot of water
  • Drink water when you get hungry, in case your body mistakes thirst for hunger

Avoid Spicy Foods, Caffeine, or Alcohol Before Bed

The foods and drinks you consume will immediately impact your internal body temperature. Substances like caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods will heat your body up. If you want to sleep calmly, your body must be cool throughout the night. Alcohol, caffeine, and spicy substances complicate the natural sleep process. These items will also disrupt your natural sleeping pattern throughout the night.

We are not saying to remove alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods completely. However, you should cut them off at dinner, or three to four hours before settling for bed. Doing so will minimize the overall impact of the substances.

Take a Shower or Bath Before Going to Bed

Taking a warm bath or shower before bed will have the opposite effect. As you take a shower or bath, your body temperature will rise. However, it will cool itself down when you step out of the bath or shower. Showering before bed also enables you to fall asleep quicker.

As you build the shower or bath into your nighttime routine, you never want to get too extreme. Avoid doing cold or hot showers, but you should stick to the lukewarm shower.

Reduce the Thermostat Temperature

Turning down the thermostat is one of the most effective strategies for sleeping cool at night. If you get hot while you sleep, reduce the thermostat. There is obviously a cost tradeoff of doing so. Energy bills will increase during the summer to accommodate air conditioning. However, you cannot put a price on comfortability and quality sleep.

To maximize your air conditioning, ensure your airflow is optimal throughout your house. If your air cannot travel to your bedroom, the extra costs to operate the air conditioner will not be worth it.

So, what is the best temperature to sleep in summer? According to The Sleep Foundation, the optimal bedroom temperature for sleep is approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit. We assessed other sources, and the average range is 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.

Try Mindfulness or Meditation Practices

There are numerous benefits to mindfulness and mediation. One of them is better, cooler, and natural sleep. Meditation allows you to connect with yourself and your mind. However, it also lowers your heart rate and reduces your body temperature to an optimal level.

There are several ways to practice meditation, including tactics like muscle relaxation, breath control, and subtle stretching. When you practice your meditation or mindfulness, it would be best to isolate yourself in a quiet, private space. You could also immerse yourself in your bedroom, which should already be a calming space to fall asleep.

Apply an Ice Pack

If you want to reduce your internal body temperature quickly, an ice pack will get the job done. Pour the ice into a plastic bag or get one from your freezer. Wrap the ice pack in a towel or washcloth so you do not shock your skin. It would also be best to place the towel or cloth on your feet, head, or body. You could either apply it for the entirety of your sleep or do it for an hour or two beforehand.

Flip Over Your Sheets or Pillows

If you do not already have a naturally-cooling pillow, try to flip it to the cold side periodically. Because one side is exposed to the air, it will be cold for you when you turn it over. Although this is not a long-term solution, it will provide some temporary assistance.

Leverage the Power of Cross-Ventilation

Cross-ventilation will boost air speed and create a cooling effect in your room, helping you sleep with natural air. To achieve optimal cross-ventilation, block heat from entering the room and accumulating. Opening doors and windows will establish cross-ventilation.

Try to open up windows that line up across from each other. Form a smaller window pathway for incoming air, and then form a more massive opening for outgoing air. Not only will this intensify the cooling impact, but it will also boost air speed.

Freeze Your Socks or Sheets

This strategy might sound strange, but it is a useful way to keep yourself cool at night. When you are a couple of hours from going to bed, put your socks in a more massive bag or container in the freezer. When it is bedtime, remove them and put them on your feet. You can apply this same strategy to a bandana or hat, which you can put around your head or neck.

Sheets are a critical component of sleep temperature because they absorb the heat from your body. Apply the same strategy here and place the sheet in the freezer a couple of hours before bed. When it is time to crawl into bed, set them down and relax. Feel the cool materials as you wind down for the night, and then enjoy your sleep.

Keep Your Skin Moist and Cool

Keeping your skin surface moist and cool is an effective strategy to lower body heat. There are several ways to achieve this. You can place a damp cloth on your neck or forehead or spread a cooling gel. There are also numerous deodorant or facial wipes designed to remove sweat. These products also reduce sweating and establish a reliable cooling feeling. Avoid products that have alcohol in the ingredients before making a purchase decision.

Healthy Foods and Drinks to Eat Before Bed

Choosing a nighttime snack is a difficult decision. Below we outline some of the best snacks and drinks that will keep you healthy and cool at night:

  • Banana and almond butter – bananas and almonds provide healthy amounts of magnesium, which helps regulate your internal clock. When your internal clock is aligned and consistent, it will result in better sleep.
  • Fruit – fruit already has a bunch of water, which will keep you hydrated for sleep. Pineapples, bananas, oranges, and cherries are all excellent options, especially when you refrigerate them beforehand.
  • Yogurt – yogurt is a cold food that provides ample calcium, an element that helps you fall asleep quicker. Yogurt also has several vitamins (vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and magnesium), which all facilitate your sleep.
  • Vegetables – much like fruit, vegetables have water inside them, which will dehydrate you before bed. Vegetables like cucumbers, celery, tomato, and zucchini all have over 90% water content.
  • Unsalted seeds and nuts – out of all the nut family members, pistachios provide the most melatonin. Pistachios also have tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts sleep quality.

Outro

As you can see, there are many healthy habits you can build into your nightly ritual. Achieving healthy, cool sleep will allow you to perform at the highest level for the next day. Your body and mind will thank you because of the energy you will have. You can excel at work, build meaningful relationships, and attain the rest you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are still unsure about how to sleep in hot weather, here are some frequently asked questions.

Why do I feel hot when I sleep?

Your existing environment plays a massive role in your sleep temperature and quality. There are three things that contribute to a hotter body temperature during sleep: bedding material, bedroom temperature, and existing health conditions. Because your body temperature decreases, the heat will transfer to your nearby environment, especially your sheets and clothes.

If I do not have an air conditioner, what are some other ways I can cool down my room?

If you do not have an existing air conditioner, evaluate creating a DIY AC component. If not, you can get creative with fans or other types of airflow. You can run your ceiling fan while you sleep or invest in an electric one.

Cross-ventilation is another effective option. You can open doors and windows to achieve your ideal airflow.  You can also freeze your sheets so that they are cold on your body for sleep time. If you do not invest in an AC unit, you can invest in upgraded mattresses or bedding instead. There are several products that have advanced cooling elements.

How can I make my bed or mattress cooler?

The best way to make your bed cooler is by investing in cooler bedding, mattress, and pillows. There are many advanced product options with cooling capabilities. Companies like Casper, Serta, Sealy, Ashley Furniture, and Tempur-Pedic have invested extensive research and money into developing these products. The heat from your body escapes into these areas, so a quality product will go a long way.

How can I make my feet cooler at night?

There are two ways you can keep your feet cool at night. An ice pack or ice bucket by your bed will make it easy and acceptable to decrease the temperature. You can also freeze your socks throughout the day, let them cool down, and then wear them on your feet while you sleep. If you have a portable fan, you can position it toward the base of the bed to keep your feet cool.

Nate Devore
Nate Devore
For over 15 years Nate has been obsessed with solving his own personal and difficult health challenges related to sleep, energy, and fatigue. As one of our sleep experts at sleeping.com, Nate is passionate about helping you get the best night’s sleep possible.

Medical Disclaimer: The content on this page should not be taken as medical advice or used as a recommendation for any specific treatment. Always consult your doctor before making any decisions.

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