Are you having difficulty sleeping at night because you feel too hot in bed?
Personally, I’m the kind of person who needs both my bed and my body to feel cool to sleep well. I’m sure that’s why I sleep worse in the summer months or in hot countries.
Not only is it unpleasant knowing that your bed is soaking up your sweat like a sponge, but it’s the opposite of what your body naturally prefers at night: a cool space to sleep in.
In this article, you’ll find a range of techniques to help make your bedroom feel more like a cave than a sauna.
Many of the ideas are relatively simple and don’t cost money; others require some effort or can be quite expensive if you’re willing to pay to make the problem go away. But I’ve tried to include enough free ideas to help you reduce your bedroom temperature and not your bank account if you’re on a budget.
At the end, I’ve compiled a list of the suggestions readers have left in the comments. There are some good ones there I recommend checking out too.
1. Take a cool shower before bed
Let’s start with one of the simplest techniques, and in my experience, one of the best.
Even if you don’t like cold showers, a lukewarm one to freshen up will still help. Avoid hot baths in the couple of hours before bed though, as it takes a long time for your body to cool down.
I swear by this, as not only does it help cool your body, but removing the sweat and sticky feeling before getting into bed just feels awesome and helps me relax.
2. Close your windows, blinds and shutters during the day
If it’s blisteringly hot outside, keep all the windows and doors shut during the day (a little opening for ventilation is ok).
If you have curtains, blinds or shutters, keep them drawn all day. This is a trick that those in hot countries have known for centuries, and can reduce the temperature of your home dramatically.
You obviously need to balance this technique with the need for natural light if you’re at home. But if you’re out all day, it’s nice not to come home to a steamy greenhouse.
3. Open the windows in the evening
Open the windows when the temperature drops in the evening to allow some (hopefully) cooler air to flow into your house and bedroom.
If you have an upstairs, attic or loft, open any windows or hatches up there to allow rising heat to escape.
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
Nowadays, there are many mattresses, toppers and pads that are marketed as being ‘cooling’. And while they may be more breathable than others, most of them don’t actually provide active cooling.
I talk about some that I’ve found more effective in my overview of cooling mattress pads which you might find useful to read through.
If you’re in need of serious active cooling though, rather than just a slightly more breathable bed, a company I recommend is Chili. They make the excellent ChiliPad and Ooler, both of which use a water cooling system to keep your body cool.
They are expensive, but are two of the few options to realistically lower the temperature of your sleeping surface no matter how hot the bedroom is.
Another tip is for those who currently use a memory foam mattress or mattress topper: try sleeping without it as an experiment as memory foam is notorious for trapping body heat.
5. Use a special bed fan
Fans can work wonders and you have several different options, depending on your budget and need for serious cooling.
You can use a normal fan and point it at your body, install a ceiling fan, or get one of the latest high-tech cooling gadgets, such as the BedJet 3. You can see it on the BedJet website and also check out my BedJet review.
If you use a normal fan, try putting a container of ice in front of it. An effective trick is to fill a couple of two-liter plastic bottles with water and freeze them. Then stand them just in front of the fan to cool the air.
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 drag 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, much cheaper than installing air con in a home that wasn’t built with it included. You can find many if you search online, such as the Black & Decker model I’ve used, which you can see on Amazon.
7. Do exercise earlier
Don’t do intense exercise in the couple of hours leading up to bedtime if possible. 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 pm in the summer, I try to be finishing up in the gym by 7 pm 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.
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.
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.
And investing in quality bedding will hopefully mean it lasts longer, which is better for the environment than poor quality bedding which is thrown away.
10. Cool your bedding before bed
Put your sheets in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer for a while before going to bed. 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.
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 which has slats might help a little with temperature regulation, rather than a solid divan bed base.
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.
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.