It’s very frustrating to get into bed and realize there’s no way you’ll fall asleep because it’s so ridiculously hot. So what do you do when the sun goes down, but your bedroom temperature doesn’t?
If you don’t have air conditioning, there are still plenty of techniques to help make your bedroom feel more like a cool cave than a sweaty sauna.
Many of the ideas are relatively simple and don’t cost anything; others require more effort and/or money. I’ve tried to include enough free ideas though to help you reduce your bedroom temperature and not your bank account if you’re on a tight budget at the moment.
1. Have a cool shower before bed
Let’s start with one of the simplest techniques, and one of the best in my experience.
You don’t necessarily need a freezing cold shower; a lukewarm shower to freshen up usually does the trick. I’d avoid hot baths before bed though, as it takes a long time for your body to cool down.
This is a fantastic technique because it’s basically free. And not only does a shower help cool your body, but removing the day’s sweat before getting into bed feels great and can help you relax.
2. Open windows, but close curtains, blinds, or shutters when the sun shines on them
Depending on how hot it is exactly, keeping doors and/or windows open all day might be all you need to do to keep the house cooler, especially if it creates a breeze and lets heat out.
If you have curtains, blinds, or shutters, it might help to keep them closed when the sun is shining directly through the windows of that room. This is a trick that those in hot countries have known for centuries and can reduce the temperature of your home dramatically. You could even swop out darker fabrics or blinds for white to help reflect the sun away from the windows.
What you keep open or closed of course has to be balanced with your desire for natural light and fresh air. Venetian blinds help get this balance right as you can adjust them to help reflect some sunlight away from the room, but still let plenty of light in.
3. Open windows to create a cross breeze in the night
If you didn’t have all the windows open during the day, when the temperature drops in the evening open them to let some (hopefully) cooler air flow through your house and bedroom.
Try to create a cross breeze through your bedroom too. If you have two windows on opposite sides of the room, opening both will do that. If you only have windows on one wall, opening windows in an adjacent room and keeping the doors open to let the breeze flow through will work too.
If you have an upstairs, attic, or loft, open any windows or hatches up there to allow rising heat to escape.
And depending on your floor and window, one experiment worth trying is to hang a cool wet sheet by the window to see if any air blowing in can be made a little cooler. This won’t work for every room though, and you need to check for too much dripping on the floor.
4. Sleep on a cooling mattress pad
There are many mattresses, toppers, and pads that are marketed as being cooling. And while they may be more breathable than others, many of them don’t really provide active cooling – they just sleep less hot than standard materials.
Even that can help improve the heat build-up under your body though, and the ones that do have active cooling can make a huge difference. Take a look at my overview of cooling mattress pads to see what kind of high-tech bedding options are out there.
If you currently sleep on a memory foam mattress, or use a memory foam mattress topper, I recommend experimenting with a different surface if you have one available.
Memory foam is notorious for trapping body heat, so you might find some relief if you remove the topper in hot weather. If you have a guest bedroom that doesn’t have memory foam on the bed, you could also try that bed to see if it sleeps cooler.
5. Experiment with fans
Fans can work wonders if you don’t mind the feeling of the air flowing over you. There are many different fan options to consider, which will depend on your budget and need for serious cooling.
You can use a normal fan and point it directly at your body, or experiment with pointing the fan out of the window to blow warm air out of the bedroom.
If you have some funds available, you could install a ceiling fan above your bed, or get one of the latest high-tech cooling gadgets, such as the BedJet 3. You can find out more about that one in my BedJet review.
If you use a normal fan, try putting a container of ice in front of it. A simple trick is to fill a couple of large drinks bottles with water and freeze them. Then stand them just in front of the fan to cool the air.
Alternatively, just fill pans from the kitchen with ice and let the cool air that rises out of them get blown towards you by the fan.
6. Install air conditioning or try a portable unit
It can be an expensive investment to install air conditioning in your home, but it’s worthwhile if you live in an unbearably hot region. And if you already have it, just not in the bedroom, try moving your bed temporarily in extreme weather to be closer to the unit.
When I lived in southern Spain and it would top 100° F for days on end in the summer, I used to take my mattress to the living room every night where it was always cooler.
If installing air con in your home is beyond your budget currently, there are plenty of good portable units you could use in the bedroom at night.
A good one will still be a bit of an investment, but it’s much cheaper than installing air con in a home that wasn’t built with it included. You can find them online and in large home improvement stores.
7. Do exercise earlier
Don’t do intense exercise in the couple of hours leading up to bedtime if you’re able to do it earlier. It can take a long time for your body to return to its normal temperature, and can keep you feeling hot and sticky in bed.
Personally, if I go to bed at 10 p.m. in the summer, I try to be finishing up in the gym by 7 p.m. at the latest whenever possible.
To be honest though, if I can’t make it to the gym until later, I still prefer the positive effect of exercise on my sleep, even if I have to go to bed feeling warmer than I’d ideally like to be. So I think this is one to experiment with for a few days to see if changing your exercise time has any effect.
8. Adjust your meals for hot weather
Don’t eat the biggest meal of the day late in the evening if possible. Digesting food raises your body temperature (especially large portions of meat). So it’s better to eat big at lunch and have a lighter meal or snack in the evening.
It might also be better to eat cooler food like salads in the evening, and avoid having the oven blazing away for long periods of time. If you can’t go without a bigger dinner though, perhaps avoid big steaks on the hottest nights.
9. Choose cotton or linen bedding
Invest in the highest quality cotton or linen bedding you can afford. Sleep only with a sheet covering you instead of any thicker bedding like duvets or blankets.
The material you both sleep on and have covering you can make a huge difference to how cool you feel at night.
Investing in quality bedding will hopefully mean it lasts longer too, which is better for the environment than poor quality bedding which is thrown away.
10. Cool your bedding before going to bed
Put your sheets in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer for a while before going to bed. Then take them out and create a little fabric cooling cocoon.
I know it sounds a little odd, but it can really help to keep you cool for just long enough to fall asleep.
11. Wear cotton nightwear
Wear light cotton nightwear rather than synthetic material, no matter how smooth velvet or silk might feel on the skin. Either that or sleep in your birthday suit!
12. Keep hydrated
Make sure you keep hydrated during the day and in the evening. Try not to drink alcohol, tea or coffee before bed. Keep a drink of water by the bed to sip during the night.
If you’re out in the sun on hot days, make sure you keep well hydrated too. And try your best not to get sunburnt by sticking to the shade and using sunscreen. It’s even harder to fall asleep on a hot night if you’re sunburnt from a long day at the beach.
13. Keep some space between you and your partner
If you sleep with a partner, keeping some space between you rather than snuggling up will help you keep cool.
It helps if you have a big enough bed, of course. And if necessary, you could try using separate bedding rather than sharing one cover.
And as much as some people might like sleeping with their pet on the bed, they are essentially four-legged hot water bottles. Great in the winter; not so much in the summer.
14. Use a slatted bed frame
Using a bed frame that has slats rather than a solid divan bed base might help a little with temperature regulation. If you have a memory foam mattress on top of a solid bed base, you might get even more cooling mileage out of changing both.
15. Lower your body temperature before bed
Try to lower your body temperature before you go to bed. A falling body temperature is one of the signals your brain uses to produce more melatonin, which then makes you feel sleepy.
That’s one reason a shower before bed helps – even if it warms you initially, your temperature then starts to fall again when you get out.
It’s also the reason I personally avoid late-night exercise, and try to avoid being in a hot kitchen at night. I have a nightly meditation routine too, and I feel that helps reduce stress, which in turn stops me feeling hot and bothered.
If your home stays warm but the temperature drops outside at night, getting outside for some fresh air before going to bed might also help with this.
There have been some great suggestions from readers in the comments below, so I’ve started a list of the best ones. Thank you all for taking the time to share your ideas!
- Soak and then freeze some socks to then wear in the evening (might result in a wet bed though…)
- Eat a Popsicle or frozen food before going to bed.
- Put a cold towel on the head before and when in bed.
- Move your mattress to the floor because heat rises.
- Put ice inside a wet cloth in a bag, and place it inside the pillow.
- Change your night clothes if you feel too hot.
- Wear as little as possible in bed.
- If you have long hair, tie it up to allow body heat to disperse better.
- If you can, put up a reflective or white shade on the outside walls that get the afternoon sun.
- Put some cold water in a jug or bottle in the fridge. Then put it into a hot water bottle to make a cold water bottle.
- Drape a cold cloth or flannel over a fan pointing at the bed.
- Sleep with your arms and legs stretched out.
- Use Aloe Vera to cool and moisturize the skin.
- Put a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil in a spray bottle mixed with cool water. Shake the bottle and mist yourself before going to bed.
- Spray icy water on the sheets before getting into bed.
- Do the tried and tested trick of turning your pillow and covers over if you overheat.
Do you have any suggestions I haven’t included in this list? Have you tried any of the ideas here and found they did or didn’t work?
I’d love to hear how you cope with hot temperatures and what you think helps keep you cool