How to Stay Cool at Night, Even When You’re a Hot Sleeper
You don’t have to take an ice-cold shower.
Published Jul 25, 2020 12:00 AM
You might recognize a particular sensation: You climb into bed and drift off to sleep, your head comfortably rested on the cold side of the pillow. And then, in the middle of the night, you’re roused awake, your limbs sweaty as you toss the covers aside. The struggle for hot sleepers is real.
The good thing is there are measures you can take to reduce your chances of having consistent unpleasant wake-up calls: Your bedding, mattress, and even the time you eat dinner have an affect on your body temperature as you sleep. Here are a few myths to stop believing—and what to do instead to get the best, perfectly cool sleep.
Myth: You Should Only Take Cold Showers
“Contrary to popular belief, a warm shower or bath is a great way to cool down,” says One Medical provider and regional medical director Natasha Bhuyan, M.D. Once you step out of the shower, your body will naturally start to cool down. Cold water might feel great at night on an especially hot day, but since it’s stimulating rather than relaxing, it can make it more difficult to fall asleep, she adds.
Myth: Memory Foam Always Overheats
You’ve likely heard that memory foam mattresses trap heat, making it hard to maintain a reasonable temperature at night. But not all memory foam is made equally. “Look for one with temperature-regulating fibers or a layer of cooling gel,” says Craig Schmeizer, CEO and founder of Idle Group (which includes companies Idle and Haven). Because they’re denser than traditional coil mattresses, many memory foam options allow for less circulation—hence, higher temperatures for sleepers. But the right materials can allow for optimal airflow.
Myth: Being a Hot Sleeper Is Always Natural
Always end up feeling hot when you’re trying to fall asleep? It could just be your natural body temperature—but don’t necessarily jump to that conclusion. “There could be aggravating factors at play,” says Bhuyan. If your room temperature is above average, if you eat right before bed, and if you drink alcohol or caffeine, you can experience restless or hot nights. If you’ve ruled out any other possibilities, then it could be hormonal fluctuations.
Myth: Mattress Protectors Don’t Matter
It’s not just your mattress that matters. “Starting at the base of your bedding is an easy way to make sure every layer of your sleep situation is as cool as ‘the other side of the pillow,’” says Schmeizer. He recommends using a mattress protector made with Tencel fiber, which wicks away excess moisture, leading to overall more comfortable sleep.
Myth: Fans Lower the Temperature in Your Space
If you’re not cranking the AC, Bhuyan recommends opening the window and using a fan to circulate the air in your space. “Although that won’t lower the temperature of the room, it can definitely create a sensation of cooling,” she says. If you’re using an overhead one, make sure it goes counterclockwise for the optimal effect.
Myth: Silky Sheets Are Always Cooling
Slippery satin or microfiber sheets might seem like they would offer the chillest night’s rest, but it’s best to stick to the classics: “Cotton pajamas and sheets are the most breathable and can help keep us cool at night,” says Bhuyan. Percale sheets have a looser weave than sateen, so are best for hot sleepers, and bamboo, hemp, and linen sheets are great options, too.
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