Too hot to sleep? 10 things to try if you can't sleep when it's warm

If you can't sleep because you feel like you're overheating, it's stressful to say the least. This is what to do if it's too hot to sleep

How to sleep in the heat
(Image credit: the sleep council)

If you feel too hot to sleep then we can help. The northern hemisphere might be moving away from heatwaves as we go into autumn, but we can all still endure warm and sleepless nights throughout the year. 

Whether you're on the top floor of your home with little airflow, or if it's a lifestyle habit that is the cause of feeling too hot and restless to sleep, we've put together some tips and advice below to show you how to sleep better when it's warm. 

Keep scrolling and hopefully, you'll soon be able to say goodbye to bouts of insomnia and sweaty sheets.

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 thermometer in their room (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. 

Apart from investing in air con or the best fan, follow our tips to help keep you calm and to help regulate your bedroom's temperature at the sleep-inducing sweet spot of 18°C:

1. Swap to cotton

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 fibres retain heat, while cotton is breathable and will provide the best ventilation for a cool night’s sleep.

Bedroom with white bedding from John Lewis

(Image credit: John Lewis )

2. Keep windows and blinds closed in the day

Keeping windows, blinds and curtains shut during the day to stop the sun and hot air filtering into the bedroom, so it's cooler when you come to use it. At night, open more than one window to allow for air to flow and cool down your bedroom faster. 

keep your home cool with living room thermal blinds from Duette

(Image credit: Duette)

3. Invest in black out blinds

Our bodies naturally assume it’s time to wake up when it gets lighter outside. Invest in blackout blinds and curtains to make sure you are not woken prematurely.

4. Use the ice method

Especially good if you’ve got youngsters, try placing several frozen bottles of water around their bedroom as this helps to cool the air around them as they melt overnight, bringing the temperature down a little.

5. Take a cool shower

A cool shower before bed can lower your body temperature after a hot day and help prepare you for a good night’s sleep. Avoid hot baths during warm weather.

6. Or, take a 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 bath 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. 

If there’s no time to run a bath, running your wrists and feet under cold water will give you an instant cooldown. 

7. Sleep downstairs

Heat rises, so if you can’t reduce the temperature enough in the bedroom, maybe consider temporarily sleeping downstairs.

8. Try sleeping on you 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. 

9. Watch what you eat

What you eat affects your body temperature, believe it or not. 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.

And, of course, avoid alcohol, which is the root of many sleep problems. Stick to water, and plenty of it. 

10. Turn off those appliances

Turn off any heat-generating lights or appliances unless you absolutely need them. Incandescent lights in particular, generate more heat than you might think, and this trick will help to keep your bedroom from getting even hotter.

More sleeping tips:

Alison Jones
Alison Jones

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.