Too hot to sleep? 14 ways to help you drift off when it's warm

Beat the heat and get those Zs

A white bedroom and bed with a crushed velvet green chair, green bedding, pot plants, and green wall decorations on a pastel-hued background.
(Image credit: Getty / Future / Beth Mahoney)

POV: It’s one of those unbearably warm summer nights and no matter what you do you just can't cool down. While summer might be your happy season (think iced lattes, buckets of ice cream, and sunny days spent by the pool), these oh-so-sticky summer nights really aren’t the one, are they? Especially, when it comes to trying to drift off in the heat — a task that can often feel seriously challenging, even on a super comfy mattress.

So, what’s a gal to do? If you’re feeling like it’s too hot to sleep, you’re most likely also a little irritated and stressed out (we’ve all been there). But the good news is that there are plenty of options when it comes to drifting off into a restful sleep even when it’s too hot — and, FYI, they’re all pretty easy to implement. 

Whether you’re in a top-floor apartment with little airflow, a heatwave has hit, or something else is causing your apartment to feel too damn hot, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s still possible to get those Zs. 

1. Treat yo’self to a gel cooling mat  

Honestly, one of the best items I’ve EVER bought for aiding summer sleep is my gel cooling mat. Admittedly, it’s designed for dogs but this hack (that went viral on TikTok last summer) works a treat for humans too. Simply place a gel cooling mat — like this Norvy pet cooling mat from Amazon — under your sheets and it’ll help you to stay cool throughout the night. For added cooling, place it in the refrigerator for two hours before heading to bed. 

2. Take a cool shower

Feeling a little clammy? A cool shower should be your go-to. Taking a tepid shower before bed can lower your body temperature and help prepare you for a good night’s sleep. And, FYI, switching your current showerhead to one of the best high-pressure showerheads can make up for the lack of temperature — promise. 

3. Prefer a soak? Take a tepid bath

Not a big shower fan? How about taking a cool bath instead? Think of your tub as your own mini swimming pool — aka, the perfect place to cool down before heading to bed. Try adding minty bath products or eucalyptus for an extra cooling effect.

4. Calm your pulse points with cool water or ice

Not got time for a dip in the tub? How about cooling your pulse points instead? Simply run your wrists under cold water to give you an instant cool down. Alternatively, stay cool by reaching into your freezer and rubbing an ice cube on pulse points. (Trust me, this works!) 

But, why does it work? Your pulse points are the areas where your blood vessels are close enough to the skin that you can feel a pulse, including your wrists, neck, inside your elbow, and at the back of your knees, and keeping your pulse points cool helps to lower your body temperature. 

5. Freeze your sheets

This TikTok-approved hack is a game-changer for those sweaty nights. I tried it last year and, honestly, it was the absolute best. It might seem like a silly idea, but popping your bed sheets where you usually stash nuggets and ice cream is the secret to a good night's sleep on the warmest of nights. 

A couple of hours before you head to bed, stash your sheets in a plastic bag and place them in the freezer. For a chilled night's sleep, take them out just before you hop into bed and cover yourself in the most dreamily cool bedding you'll ever experience. 

6. Flip your pillow and duvet over

Okay, so this might seem basic but it does work. There's nothing like the cold side of your pillow or duvet on an average day — so you can only imagine what it'll feel like when it's too hot to sleep. This quick, easy and affordable solution can provide some relief without having to fork out on specialist bedding. 

Another option is to opt for a temperature-regulating pillow such as Simba's Hybrid Pillow, which aims to ventilate and regulate temperature through Statos® technology. Find the right pillow and it'll turn sleeping — even on the hottest nights — into a cinch. No sweating, no stress, just a restful night's slumber.

7. Take a cold washcloth to bed

Feeling clammy? A great (and super simple) hack is to take a cold washcloth to bed. For best results, dampen a washcloth, pop it in a sandwich bag, and place it in the freezer for an hour or two before you're due to head to bed. 

Then, just as you're heading to bed, grab it out of the freezer. Place it behind your neck, on your forehead, or anywhere else on your body for an instant chill. The relief is incredible. 

8. Turn your hot water bottle into a cold compress

JSYKJ, hot water bottles aren't just great for winter, they're also extremely useful for those warmer nights — minus the hot water obvi. Instead of filling it with water from the kettle, fill it with cold water and place it in the freezer to chill. After an hour or two you'll have a perfectly chilled cold compress to take to bed with you. 

Looking for a new water bottle? This Attmu rubber bottle from Amazon comes in eight different colorways and a removable cover which you can replace come winter for a cozy feel.

9. Get a plant mister — for your face

Ever gone on vacation and spent an extortionate amount of money on water in a can to cool yourself down? Evian Facial Spray — we're looking at you! Instead of forking out for a pricey can of water, fill a spray bottle and use it to mist your face, body, and your bed sheets to help keep you cool while you sleep. 

An amber glass bottle (like this one on Amazon) is a great choice, especially as it can be easily stored in the refrigerator for an even cooler pre-sleep spritz.  

10. Dampen your bed sheets

It might sound odd but hear me out, because this really works. Before heading to bed, pop your sheets in the washer on a quick wash and spin cycle and then go to bed with a damp sheet over you. Then, the evaporation of the water should help to cool you as you drift off. Try it, and I promise you'll never look back!

Oh and, FYI, if you're running a fan, you should feel even more of the benefit.

11. Switch to cotton or bamboo bedding

Find yourself feeling sweaty in bed regardless of how cool the rest of your apartment feels? It could be your bedding. If you've opted for polyester or other synthetic fiber sheets, you may find yourself feeling hotter while you sleep as these fibers tend to retain heat. Whereas, cotton and bamboo are more breathable and offer better ventilation. 

12. Take a look at your duvet or comforter filling

You might also want to consider shopping for a lighter duvet or comforter. The best duvets to look out for are around 2.5-4.5 in tog (which is the weight of the filling inside) for a super-light option. These options mean that you won't be pulling them on and off in frustration.

If you're looking for new bedding, Sheets & Giggles Eucalyptus comforter on Amazon is naturally, cooling, moisture-wicking, and chemical-free and should help to keep you cool. 

13. Try a mattress topper

If you've yet to try a cooling mattress topper, we'd recommend that you give one a go. Especially as even the best beds can become hot — and stay hot — pretty quickly.

And, as your hypothalamus controls body temperature, it means that keeping your head cool is absolutely critical for staying cool while you sleep. The good news is that there are several ways of doing this artificially at night, like a pillow or mattress-cooling pad (a mattress topper that acts like a hi-tech version of a basic cold washcloth).  

Cooling mattress pads fit just like a fitted sheet and wick away moisture and heat, helping you to remain cool. 

14. Review your mattress material

Did you know that your mattress could be impacting how hot you get while you sleep? Yep, really! While some mattresses are designed to help regulate body temperature, not all are, which means that your mattress may be adding to how hard it is to sleep. 

The good news is that there are a number of different options available designed to make regulating temperature easier to manage. Usually, natural fiber mattresses (think wool, bamboo, or cotton)  tend to be cooler. As do gel memory foam mattresses that are designed to monitor and regulate temperature. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.

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