Too hot to sleep? 25 ways to help you drift off when it's warm

If you're finding it too hot to sleep at night and struggling to drift off comfortably, there are a ton of ways to help you cool down and catch those Zzzs asap

Caucasian couple in bed looking like they are too hot to sleep
(Image credit: the sleep council)

Feeling too hot to sleep? We can help. Whether you're on the top floor of your home with little airflow, a heatwave has hit the country, or there's another cause of feeling too hot and restless to sleep, we've put together some tips and advice. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of options when it comes to sleep hygiene when it's warm. Bouts of insomnia and sweaty sheets in your best mattress can be cured by everything from specialist bedding to good old-fashioned hacks. So whether you're a 'hot body' who is constantly clammy – switching from a synthetic to natural bed filling might just do the trick.

Apart from investing in air-con or the best fan (that's if you can grab one before they sell out), follow our advice on what to do when it's too hot to sleep. We've ordered tips from morning to eve, (starting with the least-invasive and short-term suggestions), so you can prepare for a successful night's sleep right from the moment you get up.

1. Fan of working out? Try exercising earlier

We all know about the benefits that exercise can have on our mind and body to relieve stress and improve our cardiovascular health.

But unfortunately, that evening pilates practice on your best yoga mat or sunset spin sesh might be doing more harm than good when you're suddenly finding yourself too hot to sleep. When wanting to settle down, the mantra 'no pain - no gain' doesn't hold much value.

So as well as freeing up the rest of your day, choose an earlier workout to allow your body a chance to cool down before bed. It'll also stop that post-workout insomnia that many of us suffer from. That's because the body produces natural painkillers (or endorphins) as a response to exercise (stress).

Close up of young Asian woman pouring water from bottle into the glass on a coffee table at home.

(Image credit: Getty/d3sign)

2. Hydrate before you caffeinate

It's also important to remember that water is our best friend during the heat.  Drinking lots of fluids can lower your internal temperature, but try and avoid heading straight to your coffee maker to consume caffeinated drinks which can act as a diuretic and draw water out of the body.

And, while we don't want to be party poopers, think carefully before you pour yourself something strong from your wine fridge or drinks trolley as alcohol can also have a dehydrating effect on you. If you do host a party, consider drinking a glass of water between each pint, vino or cocktail.

If you struggle to get through H₂O, think about shopping for one of the best water bottles with time markings on it, which can help motivate you to drink water more uniformly throughout the day. This BPA-free Elvira 32oz Motivational Fitness Sports Water Bottle with Time Marker (opens in new tab) we found on Amazon is a super-cute and colorful design.

Assortment of Matalan summer accessories including plate and beach towels in watermelon motif

(Image credit: Matalan)

3. Watch what you eat throughout the day

Believe it or not, what you eat affects your body temperature. And, protein-dense foods make our bodies work harder at digestion, which in turn can raise body temperature. 

Also avoid foods that are diuretic, as they will make you dehydrated, making it even harder to go to sleep. These foods include asparagus, artichoke, and – we're sad to report – mangoes. 

What should you eat? Most vegetables and fruit are good to eat when it's warm or even hot weather, especially water-rich watermelon and cucumber. Lean protein is also fine – think turkey or fish – plenty of salad and a little bit of protein should be good.

Paradoxically, you don't need to stay away from spicy foods during a heatwave, but when you eat them is crucial. A spicy curry at least three hours before bed will encourage you to sweat, which will eventually bring your body temperature down. Just don't eat it right before trying to doze off.

A knitted picnic blanket with heart motif with selection of food on top

(Image credit: Sophie Allport)

4. Try and eat earlier in the day

During the summer months, many of us try and make the most of the sunshine and socialize outdoors. As a result, we'll often eat alfresco, or make later dinner reservations, much to the detriment of our digestive system.

This is because it has to work harder and also use more energy. By eating later, our body temperature increases over the course of the evening and before you know it, we find ourselves too hot to sleep.

So if you're going to meet up for a special occasion, why not make a brunch appointment or start the celebrations a few hours earlier? That way, your food will a least be partly digested before you snooze and you won't have the dreaded 'food baby' sitting on your stomach.

5. Prepare for bed with a cool shower and herbal tea

A cool shower before bed can lower your body temperature after a hot day and help prepare you for a good night’s sleep. And, switching your current showerhead to one of the best high-pressure showerheads can make up for the lack of temperature – promise. 

If you like a hot drink before bed, don't drink it while under or on top of the covers. Drinking chamomile tea is perfect for winding down, but a hot beverage before bed might make you feel too hot to sleep.

Instead, take a flask of chamomile into the bathroom and drink it during a cool shower. This allows you to get the benefits of the naturally relaxing drink while keeping your body temperature cool.

bathroom with freestanding bath and basin and painted floor

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

6. Prefer a soak? Take a tepid bath

Consider having a cool bath before going to bed as this can really help to leave you feeling rejuvenated and less sweaty. A lukewarm dip in one of the best bathtubs also works especially well at cooling down small children as it can be incorporated into their bedtime routine, leaving them feeling refreshed and ready for bed. 

7. Calm your pulse points with cool water or ice

If there’s no time to run a bath, 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. These 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. Keeping your pulse points cool helps to lower your body temperature. 

8. Let your hair dry naturally

We all know that a cool shower can help to lower your body temperature if you're too hot to sleep. But what about during the day? If you need to wash your hair but don't have any plans for the rest of the day – ditch your hair dryer or flat iron.

By letting your strands dry naturally, you won't have to face blowing hot air onto your head. Alternatively, use a diffuser attachment on the cool setting to speed up the process of drying wet hair. The Dyson Supersonic (available on Amazon) (opens in new tab) has a handy diffuser that magnetically clicks on and won't trap or tangle your tresses.

What's more, reducing the amount of heat on your hair over time may improve its condition too. Rinsing with cool water can also help to close the hair cuticle, and give the appearance of shinier hair without going to the salon.

9. Tie your hair up if it's long

Soft and flowing, hair can make us feel fun and feminine. But when it's too hot to sleep, silky strands sticking to our faces and bodies is a surefire way to feel flustered. One way to stop us from getting hot and bothered is to keep it out of sight by tying it up with a headband or scrunchie. There are loads of super-cute, no-snag hair ties on Amazon (opens in new tab), so you won't look like Ms. Trunchbull with a mom bun.

Loosely does it, however, as tension caused by a tight hairband can cause headaches and in some cases, hair loss. To avoid this, choose a hair accessory without a metal grip. Children who have thick or textured hair may also benefit from braids or plaited designs.

A small dog sitting in pet bed in master bedroom with pink bedding decor, Pampas and black/cane bedside cabinet

(Image credit: Sophie Allport)

10. Send children and pets to their own bed

Children and pets love a snuggle in bed. But as cute as they are, these extra bodies can act as a mini radiator in your room. So if your kids and fur babies can sleep independently, instruct them to do so. Or, if you want to provide some parental support during a particularly challenging night, set up some lightweight bedding solutions in your master bedroom. 

If your child or pet is too hot to sleep, keeping a glass or bowl of water by their bed is an easy way to ensure that they can hydrate themselves without waking you up.

It's worth taking a look at our best pet beds and Remy kidz mattress review – both helpful resources if your dependents are finding it hard to doze off. 

11. Choose appropriate sleepwear (or wear nothing!)

Shorts, a chemise, or simply in the buff – we all have our preferences on how we like to sleep. But, just like our bed linen choices, our sleepwear selections can impact on how comfortable we are when it feels too hot to sleep.

So ditch the onesie in favor of a more sleep-friendly outfit (or your birthday suit). But if snoozing nude isn't your thing, cotton or linen sleepwear is an appropriate solution.

For children, choose sleepwear with poppers instead of buttons to allow them to take off garments easily at night should they feel the need to.

Sure, it's the cheekiest tip we've posted on Real Homes, but going to bed in your birthday suit has a plethora of benefits, and it gets the health professionals' approval.

Dr Sarah Brewer (opens in new tab), a general practitioner says: 'Sleeping naked means that your body remains cooler during the night, which is important as overheating is a common cause of disturbed sleep,'

'Being over-hot in bed by even 3-4 degrees changes brain-wave patterns, reduces the amount of time you spend in REM sleep, increases the chances of waking up, and reduces deep sleep.'

Here, she lays out the three main advantages of sleeping in the buff:

  • Aids weight loss: If sleep is disrupted from being too warm, your body produces more cortisol than usual, leading to an increased appetite.
  • Improves skin problems: Overheating at night can worsen many skin conditions, such as eczema, so sleeping naked can help prevent this.
  • Improves male fertility: The male hormone testosterone is secreted at night and rises in certain stages of sleep. If a man feels too hot and his sleep is disturbed as a result, his testosterone production may be reduced. Sleeping naked helps to promote a healthier sleep pattern, so normal testosterone production occurs.

On the flip side, Molly Freshwater, co-founder of luxury bed linen retailer Secret Linen Store (opens in new tab) warns against wearing nothing in bed. She says: 'The first thing we may want to do when we start to get hot during the night, is strip off. But, sleeping naked can be the worst thing to keep you cool.'

'Naturally, as we sleep, we sweat, more so in warmer months, and this sweat collects on the body and stays there if sleeping with nothing on. Instead, opting for lightweight, cotton pyjamas can actually help keep you cool as the pyjamas soak up this sweat and naturally wick the moisture away from the skin. 

12. Freeze your sheets and your socks

Yes really! It might seem like a silly idea, but popping your footwear and bed sheets where you usually stash nuggets and ice cream may be the secret to a good night's sleep. Before you go to bed, pop on your socks for chilled tootsies, and get under that icy linen so that you can literally 'chill out'.

13. Try sleeping on your back

This might not be your natural sleeping position, but lying very still on your back will help your body keep cooler, and will allow the cooler nighttime air to cool you down quicker. 

14. Flip your pillow and duvet over

There's nothing like the cold side of your pillow or duvet on a 'normal' 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.

If you're a little more organized and can anticipate that it'll be too hot to sleep, you might want to put your best silk pillowcase in the freezer. Simply place it in a clean plastic bag and leave it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Your bed will feel instantly fresher and cooler.

You could also go for a temperature-regulating pillow itself such as Simba's Hybrid Pillow (opens in new tab), which aims to ventilate and regulate temperature through Statos® technology 

15. Take a cold flannel to bed

Nurse yourself to sleep by patting your forehead with an ice-cold flannel. The best towels for the job are the same ones you use for your morning and evening skincare routine, but if you're more of a 'splash-your-face-and-go' sort of guy or gal, a couple of these Body Shop Luxury Flannel Facial Washcloths on Amazon (opens in new tab) are a good place to start.

A hot water bottle with Flamingo motif in bedroom with printed duvet cover

(Image credit: Sophie Allport)

16. Turn your hot water bottle into a cold compress

Cuddly and comforting, a hot water bottle can take the chill off a cold winter's day. But if you're finding it too hot to sleep, a cool vessel placed against your body can provide some respite for a rise in temperatures.

Instead of filling up this rubber container with water from the kettle, fill it with cold water and place it in the freezer to chill. Remember to remove the fluffy or woolly insulating cover that comes with your bottle for optimum results.

This Attmu rubber bottle from Amazon (opens in new tab) comes in eight different colorways and a removable cover which you can replace come winter for a cozy feel.

17. 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 (opens in new tab) – we're looking at you!

At home, you needn't be hostage to the offerings at the local hypermarket. Instead, fill a cheap spray bottle and use it to mist your face, body, and your bed sheets to cool down accordingly. Just be sure not to use too much on your bed as you don't want to saturate your sheets. Go for an amber glass bottle (like this one on Amazon) (opens in new tab) for a chic, spa aesthetic.

A couple of sprays across the face should do the trick. If you want to feel super boujie, add a few drops of peppermint essential oil (opens in new tab) to a spray bottle of water, and when you’re feeling hot, mist yourself with it. The mint will make you feel extra cool as the water evaporates, similar to how minty chewing gum makes the water feel colder when you drink it.

If you've got a migraine/head pain from the heat (and have ruled out dehydration or something more serious), you'll be pleased to know that mint oils are one of the best essential oils for headaches

18. Go to bed with damp bed sheets 

Another temperature-reducing hack is to put your cotton sheets in the washing machine on a quick wash and spin cycle then go to bed with the damp sheets over you when you go to bed. The evaporation will cool you as you drop off. If you have your fan aimed at you, too, you'll get even more benefit.

19. Swap to cotton bedding

If you feel too hot, swap your duvet for a cotton sheet which will help you better control your body temperature. Polyester and other synthetic fibers retain heat, while cotton is breathable and will provide the best ventilation for a cool night’s sleep.

Lucy Ackroyd, head of design at Christy England (opens in new tab) explains: 'Pure cotton sheets have sensory benefits and, being naturally breathable, help to regulate your temperature and moisture levels while you sleep, preventing the dreaded clammy feeling you can experience with synthetic fibers.'

'Not only that, but high thread count fabrics are smoother against the skin, so as well as being much more comfortable, you are less likely to feel tangled up or trapped by rougher fabrics that cling, especially to nightwear.'

'Try Percale as opposed to Sateen sheets, as they’re made with a looser weave and therefore are much more breathable.'

20. Take a look at your tog

You might also want to consider shopping for a different tog duvet. The best duvets to look out for are around 2.5-4.5 for a super-light option. These options mean that you won't be pulling them on and off in frustration.

'As well as making sure you have the right sheets for summer, you should also make sure you have the right duvet too.' says Ackroyd.

'During these hotter months, a lighter tog of 4.5 is recommended. If you like something a little heavier but still breathable, try a 10.5 tog.'

If you're looking for bedroom ideas for couples, the Sheets & Giggles Eucalyptus comforter on Amazon (opens in new tab) is a naturally, cooling, moisture-wicking, and chemical-free to keep both parties happy. But if you'd prefer to shop elsewhere, we've got a list of the best places to buy bedding.

21. Try a mattress topper

It’s all very well being hot during the day, but most of us need a bedroom to be under 21˚C to have a comfortable night. Even the best beds can become heat sinks pretty quickly, with your hot bodies releasing heat into the mattresses and pillows. 

Your hypothalamus controls body temperature – so keeping your head cool is absolutely critical to comfort. There are several ways of doing this artificially at night – one of which are pillow- or mattress-cooling pads (see our reviews – basically, they're mattress toppers that act like hi-tech versions of mother’s cold flannel). 

Easy to install, cooling mattress pads fit much like a fitted sheet. Wicking away moisture past midnight, the latest offerings come in different sizes, colors, and materials to suit all needs and interior styles. The JML Chillmax Cooling Pad (opens in new tab), for example, goes on top of the pillow and can be refrigerated before bedtime.

Mattress and topper by Loaf in a white bedroom with white painted window frames

(Image credit: Loaf)

22. Review your mattress material

Jonathan Warren, director at bed specialist Time4Sleep (opens in new tab) comments on just how important it is to choose the right mattress and what to consider if you struggle to sleep during the summer.

He says: 'There are a number of mattress options available that can help you to regulate your body’s temperature,'

'Generally speaking, a mattress with a high content of natural fillings such as wool, cotton, or bamboo is often a great choice for those suffering to sleep in the heat as they tend to be cooler as well as being naturally hypoallergenic,'

'Other options to consider are new generation elite gel memory foam mattresses that include intelligent temperature regulating technology to help keep you cool in the summer and warm during the winter,'

'These mattresses include a temperature regulating cool gel that adjusts with your body temperature to ensure you’re never too hot or cold during the night, allowing you to have a truly blissful night’s sleep.'

23. Don't cover your feet

'Heat escapes from certain areas of your body the most, and for this reason you want to keep your feet out from under the covers when you’re going to bed, allowing excess heat to escape your body,' advises Aureen Chinchpure, brand communications manager at Pizuna Linens (opens in new tab).

24. Sleep downstairs

Pink styled sofa bed in living room with green wall and ladder shelf

(Image credit: Andrew Martin)

If you are struggling to sleep in the heat, consider sleeping downstairs where it's going to be naturally cooler. Hot air rises so if your bedroom is on the second floor it might be worth trying to kip on the best couch (3-seaters and L-shaped sofas offer lots of legroom) or better still, invest in one of the best sofa beds.

25. No luck with cooling down? Camp outside!

A tent in boho style garden with outdoor cushions and outdoor chair

(Image credit: Boutique Camping)

A nostalgic pastime for many, camping outside in the garden has its benefits. So if you're finding it too hot to sleep downstairs or in your bedroom - it's time to take things outside.

By popping up a tent (or learning how to make a teepee), and setting up camp (or glamp) outside, you can create a fun and novel night time routine that the kids will love.

From eating Al fresco to setting up a small fire when the temperature drops and having S'mores for dessert - you can create cheap source of entertainment for the children. Sure, it isn't quite Coachella, but you can still make magical memories while the children haven't fled the nest just yet.

Why can't I sleep when it's hot?

Sometimes the answer is super straightforward: you just aren't tired enough. With lots more sunshine, this extra light tricks us into thinking it's not time to doze off before it's dark. So if you attempt to sleep before your body clock says so, you could end up huffing and puffing in frustration.

Chinchpure says: 'Going to bed earlier will likely only result in you getting hot and bothered, stressed, and flustered – making it harder to go to sleep,'

'Wait until you’re absolutely ready to go to bed and to go to sleep; you’re far more likely to doze off.'

 

Why do I get so hot at night when I sleep?

There can be lots of contributing factors, many seasonal, but for the ultimate sleep environment, your bedroom should be between 16–18˚C. It can be difficult to accurately know what temperature it is, and heat can really affect children so consider installing a room thermometer (opens in new tab) in their sleep space (be sure to place it somewhere they won’t be able to reach or play with it), so you can tell if it’s too hot and decide whether or not you need to move them to another, cooler room for the night. 

Alison Jones
Assistant Editor

Alison is Assistant Editor on Real Homes magazine. She previously worked on national newspapers, in later years as a film critic and has also written on property, fashion and lifestyle. Having recently purchased a Victorian property in severe need of some updating, much of her time is spent solving the usual issues renovators encounter.

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