How To Keep Cool At Night: 15 Ways To Beat The Heat

ceiling fan

If you’re reading this article, I can only assume you’re familiar with the frustrating feeling of tossing and turning all night because it’s too hot to sleep.

It’s a feeling I know only too well as I’m a perennially hot sleeper who needs a cool bedroom temperature to fall asleep.

If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, all is not lost though. There are still plenty of techniques to try that can help make your bedroom feel more like a cool cave than a sweaty sauna.

In this article, I’ll be sharing my top tips to help you navigate the sweltering nights ahead a little better. There are plenty of ideas that don’t require much effort or expense that you can do right away, along with my thoughts on bedroom products that might be worth considering in the long run.

1. Have a shower before going to bed

shower head with running water

Let’s start with one of the simplest techniques, and one of the best in my experience: have a shower before going to bed.

It doesn’t need to be a cold shower; a warm or lukewarm shower to freshen up usually does the trick. If you prefer to take a bath, it’s probably better not to do so right before going to bed though, but a little while beforehand instead. It can take time for the body to cool down after a long soak in a hot bath.

Having a shower works well for three main reasons:

  • It might sound counterintuitive when your aim is to cool down, but warm water (or bedding) can increase vasodilation. This means increased blood flow in your extremities like the hands and feet, where heat can escape. It’s one of the main ways your body cools itself in preparation for sleep (see my article about the ideal bedroom temperature for more on this concept).
  • A lowering body temperature is good for sleep, and we tend to fall asleep when our core body temperature is falling most rapidly.
  • It feels good to freshen up before getting into bed, and the bed can feel cozier when you’re straight out of the shower.

2. Use windows, curtains, blinds and shutters to your advantage

photo of closed blinds on a house window

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 the 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 though. This is a trick that many people in very hot countries do as it can help reduce how much the sun heats the room up.

If your curtains or blinds are made of a dark colored material, however, they might absorb heat rather than reflect it. So it might help to change them for a light colored material to reflect the sun away from the windows. When I lived in Andalucia in Spain, it amazed me how many buildings, doors, and shutters were painted white. It was all about reflecting the sun, and it worked.

What you keep open or closed, and for what length of time, has to be balanced with your need for natural light and fresh air – especially if you live in a home that is very well sealed with little airflow when all the windows are closed. Venetian blinds can help with the need for daylight because you can adjust them to help reflect some sunlight away from the room, but still let plenty of light in.

As for keeping windows open or closed, the World Health Organisation advises openings windows and shutters during the morning and evening, but keeping them closed during the daytime on the side that the sun is facing.

To quote their article:

At night and early morning when the outside temperature is lower, open all the windows and shutters in your home. During the day, close the windows and shutters (if available), especially those facing the sun during the day. 

World Health Organisation

Personally, I think some common sense is needed to decide which windows to keep open or closed, and for how long.

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.

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

latex mattress topper

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 can.

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.

If you’d like to try a more breathable mattress topper or mattress, I recommend considering latex (like in the photo below). Latex is much more breathable than memory foam or plush toppers that contain polyester fiber fill. Take a look at my comparison of mattress toppers to see which ones I currently recommend for hot or cold sleepers.

5. Experiment with fans

bedjet 3

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 right behind the fan. A simple trick is to fill a couple of plastic drinks bottles with water and freeze them. Then stand them just behind the fan to cool the air it draws in and blows towards you.

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 expensive to install air conditioning in your home, but it might be a worthwhile investment if you live in an unbearably hot region. If you already have air conditioning, just not in the bedroom, try moving your bed temporarily in extreme weather to be closer to the unit.

When I lived in Spain and it would top 100° F for days on end in the summer, I used to cart 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.

If you’re interested in air conditioning, I recommend doing plenty of research before you invest in it. One helpful overview article I recommend from the US is at Familyhandyman.com. And another good article can be found on the UK website homebuilding.co.uk.

7. Do exercise earlier

man in the gym doing exercise

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, which might lead to 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.

And if it’s a particularly hot day, avoid doing strenuous exercise outdoors.

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 a big 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.

And on the topic of appliances, you might be able to reduce some heat in the home by keeping electrical appliances switched off if you don’t need to use them (not the fridge or freezer though!)

9. Choose cotton or linen bedding

light cotton bed sheets

The material you both sleep on and have covering you can make a huge difference to how cool you feel at night.

I recommend using bedding made from natural fibers, such as cotton or linen. It might also help to only sleep with a sheet covering you instead of any thicker bedding like duvets or blankets. Put the winter bedding away and keep it light in the summer, if you haven’t done so already.

Investing in high-quality bedding rather than cheap synthetic fabrics like polyester will hopefully mean it lasts longer too, which is also better for the environment.

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 some polyester styles might feel on the skin. Either that or sleep in your birthday suit!

12. Keep hydrated

woman taking a glass of water on her bedside table

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. Try your best not to get sunburnt: stick to the shade, wear a hat, and use sunscreen. It’s even harder to fall asleep on a hot night if you’re sunburnt from a long day at the beach.

I know only too well how hard it is to sleep when you spend a bit too long snorkeling on holiday, no matter how many gallons of aloe vera after sun you attempt to cure yourself with!

13. Allow some space between you and your partner in bed

If you sleep with a partner, keeping some space between you rather than snuggling up will help you keep cool. Of course, not everyone has a big enough bed to leave loads of space between you.

Even if you don’t, a little space for air to circulate might help rather than being two biological radiators welded together with sweat. If necessary, you could also 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

shaded grass area in central park in new york at sun set

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 from 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.

Readers’ suggestions

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.
  • Take a sports injury ice bag to bed.

Further reading

If you’re experiencing a heatwave where you live, I recommend reading the World Health Organisation’s guidance for keeping cool during a heatwave. As well as offering advice for staying safe during the daytime, they also have some ideas for the nighttime.

Your ideas

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.

135 Comments

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    • Sometimes all it takes is a simple action or two like this, especially if your bedroom isn’t too hot and you’re a relatively good sleeper.
      Regards
      Ethan

  1. Ancient Egyptians developed a clever technique to beat the heat. To try the “Egyptian Method,” soak your sheet in cool water and wring it until it’s damp but not wet, or use a spray bottle. You can also run your sheet through a cold-water quick wash and spin cycle.

    Use the damp sheet as the top sheet and use a dry bottom sheet. The water in the damp sheet will evaporate throughout the night and keep you cool, and it should be dry by morning.

  2. I put hot water bottles in the freezer during the day and at night then wrap them in a towel or pillowcase. Put your feet on them it works a treat.

    • It is 23:08 and I have got a busy day tomorrow and it is over 30 degrees and I think it is the hottest day of the year! I am so so hot.

      • Hi Nana
        I’d be tempted to get up and have a quick cool shower and try to sleep again. It’s better than lying there for another hour or two hoping you fall asleep!
        Regards
        Ethan

    • This one is science. Spray bedsheet with a water bottle so that it’s damp, turn on the fan, the evaporation of the sheet cools you underneath.

  3. Take the duvet out of the sheets and get your fan and blow the inside of the sheet up and get inside with a damp pillow and spray the inside with water

  4. One thing that is really helpful is if you’re too hot in bed, try turning your cover and piĺlow to the other side its soooo much cooler.

    • Hi there
      I agree, this is one of the quickest ways to get some relief from overheating. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, and always found turning the pillow around was great. I also try to move my whole body to the side as well to release heat buildup from under my body. This also really helps. Combine some wafting of the covers, if you’re using any, and it’s like hitting the ‘refresh’ button on your bed. If only the effect lasted longer!
      Regards
      Ethan

  5. A cooling pillow was pretty much my life saver during the heat wave as I really struggle to sleep when hot. I would strongly recommend investing properly in a comfy pillow, as it can make such a difference to your sleep!

    • Hi
      I agree that having the right pillow, and a comfy pillow, can make the world of difference at any time of the year!
      Regards
      Ethan

  6. One other way to keep cool is to keep your skin moist, and if you’re kinda poor like me you probably can’t afford aloe vera and so if you have a small container fill it with ice then put cold water in it. After that take a small piece of cloth on top take a rubber band (or hairpiece) and put it over the bottom, then when you hot take your fingers or hand dab the cloth and wipe some cool water on you.
    from, Isabella

    • Hi Isabella
      Thanks for the suggestion. Even though there are many products and methods for cooling which can cost a lot of money, there are always simpler ways that can be done virtually for free. The trick is to try different ones until you find something that works. My favorite budget optiona are:
      1. put frozen 2 liter bottles in front of a fan to cool the air slightly.
      2. Freeze your bedsheets for an hour inside a plastic bag to keep them clean. Then go to bed with lovely cool sheets:-)
      Regards
      Ethan

      • This is the best one, especially with ice in a cloth, it cooled me down completely, so lovely in the hot sticky nights.

  7. My husband sleeps with one foot out of the cover and it keeps him cool. I’m the one that can’t find relief from the heat at night. I’ve always slept super hot. I have the ac on high, my fan going just minimal clothes my blanket and sheet are really light. I do have to sleep with a blanket for some reason. But some nights I toss and turn all night trying to get cool. Oh I also have fibro, so ice for me it not an option. And the above listed things are not in my budget.

    • Hi Alicia
      Sorry to hear you’re struggling. Maybe the issue is partly having a double layer – layers add warmth. Perhaps you could just use one bedding type on top?
      Regards
      Ethan

      • Try this go purchase the chill max pillow from Wilkos and put it in the freezer for 20 minutes. It may be hard to sleep with it but once your head goes on to it it will last for 8 hours.

    • I dampen a cloth or a towel and put it in the pillowcase soaked. It keeps your head cool, then take out the towel and rub your skin everywhere and it will cool you down.

  8. I just try and sleep with the duvet on for as long as I can, but then I just take the duvet off when I get too hot. Don’t lie on your duvet during the day because it will heat it up. That doesn’t mean it has to stop you lying on your bed, just move the duvet out the way then lie down.

    • Hi Sally
      I sometimes take the duvet out of the cover if I am staying somewhere unfamiliar and don’t have my usual bedding setup. I then sleep just with the cover, but have the internal part of the duvet close to the bed so I can put it on top in the night if the temperature does drop down.
      Regards
      Ethan

  9. Aloe Vera cools and moisturises skin and I put this in with underpants that were in the fridge for a bit! Works a dream!!!

  10. Try cold water on a blanket for your body and a flannel on your forehead the flannel should only be left on for half and hour. It may also help sleeping nude or in underwear of some kind.

  11. Get a washcloth damp with cold water and drape it over your fan partly. My mom said it’s similar to a “swamp cooler” and it works pretty well.

    • Hi Briana
      Thanks for your suggestion – I quite like that one, at least for the start of the night. Even better would be to freeze a damp cloth first, and then hang it over if possible so it’s cooler.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Put cool water and a few drops of peppermint essential oil into a spray bottle. Shake it up & mist yourself before bed (we do this when sleeping out on the porch at our friends house) the water evaporates and the peppermint cools your skin even more… it also helps deter mosquitoes!

  12. Has anyone got any ideas for how to stay cool during the night? I’m fed up of the menopause and waking up between 3-5am because the mattress under me is just too hot – ridiculously hot! I’m not waking up having hot flushes, but just because the bed is too hot.
    I already sleep under just a couple of sheets, have a fan on the go and sleep naked. I rotate my pillows so I always have a cool one to use.

    • Hi Sally
      Thanks for your comment. What material is your mattress? You can buy mattress toppers which shift a little of the heat from under you, such as the slumbercloud, which I recommend on this site. It won’t remove all the heat, but it might help if you have a mattress which tends to trap more heat, like memory foam.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Get a blue, cool pillow thing from Asda put it in the fridge leave it and then put it in with you in bed inside your pillow case or on top of your whole pillow over all. It keeps you cool until you fall asleep when you can’t feel it. It is actually cheap because it is only about £10 each and are really useful!!!!

    • If you get an ice pack and put it under your leg it helps. It gets you body cold and you can fall asleep very fast. (Make sure the ice pack is in a sandwich bag or in some kind of bag).

    • I have a lot of trouble getting to sleep at night due to the hot weather in Australia. Tonight it’s 46 degrees Celsius, it is really hot. I found out that if you go into the bathroom grab a spray bottle and constantly spray yourself with water it really helps

  13. Any ideas for keeping a specific pillow cool? I have chronic neck pain and out of dozens of pillows I’ve only found one that provided relief, but it’s Down and with it my head gets so hot I still sleep poorly. I’ve tried a silk pillowcase but it was too slippery (idk if they’re all like this), cotton was too hot, and a Modal pillowcase that was cooler but didn’t do enough to offset the heat from the pillow.

    • Hi Logan
      Have you tried the slumbercloud cooling pillowcases? Might help a little with your favorite pillow. Otherwise, I don’t really know many reliable cooling pillows as such – perhaps the chillow?
      I’d also recommend putting your pillow and or pillow cases in a plastic bag in the freezer before bed for a while – that can help at least at the start of the night.
      Regards
      Ethan

  14. Don’t wear anything flowy – wear small tight things to sleep even if you wear a night gown take it off and just wear underwear

    • Hi
      Thanks for your suggestion. I agree that less clothing is a good thing. And clothing that can bunch up and trap more warm air is best to avoid.
      Regards
      Ethan

  15. To lower the body temperature before you go to bed, wet some face towls in very cold water, wringle them out and them put them under your armpits. This will lower your body temperature very rapidly.

    • Hi Amparo
      Thanks for your comment and suggestion. I might try this one this evening and see if it does help or not.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Hi Jackie
      Thanks for your comment and suggestion. I quite like that one, so will add it to the list now!
      Regards
      Ethan

  16. Try sitting up instead of lying down, I don’t know why but it works like a dream. You can also fill a bag with ice, wrap it in a cloth and put it in your pillow.

    Kind regards
    Beth

    • Hi Bethany
      Thanks for your comment. It might feel good because of the effect it has on your blood circulation. But sleeping sitting up isn’t recommended for various health reasons. Using ice can help – as long as the bag has no leaks!
      Regards
      Ethan

  17. One of the ways to keep bedrooms cool is by placing shade cloth against the outside walls, the walls that get the afternoon sun. The shade cloth is left on during the summer months. We found that the bricks heat up during the day, so by leaving the windows open at night for cool air, all we got was hot air, heat from the bricks.

    • Hi Martyn
      Thanks for your comment and excellent suggestion! I haven’t heard that one before, and it does make sense. I imagine it won’t be possible for everyone, and will depend on factors such as the size and accessibility of the walls. But if it can be done, I can see how it could help. I’ll definitely be adding this one to the list.
      Regards
      Ethan

  18. What I would do is freeze some socks and wear them at night because there’s tons of pin points and nerves in your feet so keeping your feet cold will keep your body cool

    • Hi there
      Thanks for your comment and interesting suggestion. As someone who regularly goes to bed with ‘hot feet’ as I call it, I can understand the concept of cooling the feet down. Personally, I find just a quick rinse in cold water in the shower or bath before getting into bed works wonders though.
      Regards
      Ethan

  19. In bed and it’s hot I take the duvet off and it’s too hot!!!!!if you live in Britain try using a very lightweight blanket and put a cold flannel/wash cloth on your forehead.in the day freeze a bottle of water then the ice will melt and the water will be icy cold(or do the ice bucket challenge ???)

    • I wear ” Happy Feet” socks at night. It totally helped me stop the single alcohol drink at night. I will now also tie cold, wet, wrung out socks around my ankles. Your ankles are a strong portal into your system, as is your armpits. Ice cold washcloths in your arm-pit also sounds great. You can’t get easier, or more direct, or cheaper than that.

      • Hi there
        Thanks for your suggestions! I agree that home-made cooling is the most inexpensive way to tackle the heat in bed. The only problem is it soon warms up. But if you can fall asleep and stay asleep during the time it’s still cool – that’s great!
        Regards
        Ethan

  20. ive found wearing as little clothing as possible helps.(guys underwear only, girls naked, possible boyfriend or husband will appreciate, or just in underwear and bra). This helps because the less clothiing you have on, the less heat gets trapped by them. Tthis allows yourr body heat to escape unhindered

    • Hi there
      Thanks for your comment. I agree that it’s good to wear less clothing in the hotter months. I guess it also partly depends on having the right kind of bedding too, and also being happy to wash the bed sheets regularly.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Totally nude really helps you keep cool. We have no air conditioning and don’t need it we have only used our fan 2 times this summer. We usually just go nude in the house. We pull blinds to stop sun. Works great.

  21. I’ve noticed that if you change whatever you’re wearing when you get too hot it helps. I guess it has something to do with the clothes you’re putting on being room temperature and not your body temp.

    • Hi Sam
      Thanks for your comment and your suggestion. I think that’s a good idea, especially if you like to sleep with clothes on. If it’s really hot, sleeping with as light a material as possible is great. And perhaps if you do find it hard to sleep, getting up and changing your night clothes might provide some brief respite – especially if it’s so hot you’ve been sweating in them.
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Hi there
      Thanks for your comment and that’s not a bad suggestion! Even lowering the bed frame or putting the mattress on a floor covering might help a little.
      Regards
      Ethan

  22. I just wanted to know something – if my boyfriend won’t for the life of me turn on the ac and its 86 inside our house what would be best for some one that has copd and Asthmaa? its hot as hell help please cant sleep!

    • Hi Tanya
      Thanks for your comment. Why won’t your boyfriend turn on the air conditioning? If you have conditions which are making it difficult for you to be comfortable at night, I think perhaps you need to have a serious talk with him about working together to find a temperature that works for you both.
      You can also try out the ideas in the article – there are lots of good things you can do to try and bring your temperature down. But if it’s the air itself which causes you problems, you might find you need to do something to bring some air flow in – either with the air con or perhaps a bed fan.
      Regards
      Ethan

  23. Try eating a Popsicle or some frozen food before getting in bed. Try putting a cool towel on your head before and during bed. It really helps calm and soothe your body on those hot, hot, HOT summer days