How to Stay Cool at Night, Even When You’re a Hot Sleeper
You don’t have to take an ice-cold shower.
Updated May 2, 2023 5:20 PM
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The struggle for hot sleepers is real. You climb into bed and drift off to sleep with your head coddled by the cold side of the pillow. And then in the middle of the night you’re jolted awake by the worst nightmare—you’re practically drowning in your sweaty sheets.
If you’ve spent your last soggy morning wondering how to stay cool at night, first consider this: Your bedding, beverages, and even the temperature of your shower can play a part—but not how you think. We talked to the pros and busted a few myths to help you get a more chill slumber.
Myth: Your Whole Body Needs to Cool
Bamboo bedding checks off several boxes that point toward a good night’s rest, and certified sleep consultant Kelly Murray tells us that even just adding a pillow in the natural material is useful for those who run warm. “Cooling your head can effectively cool your core body temperature,” she notes. “Sleeping on a pillow made of bamboo fibers can help with this, especially for sleepers who tend to overheat.”
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. Sure, cold water might feel refreshing before climbing into bed on an especially hot day, but it’s stimulating rather than relaxing, so it can make it more difficult to fall asleep, she adds. Once you step out of the shower, your body will naturally start to cool down.
Myth: Memory Foam Always Overheats
You’ve likely heard that memory foam mattresses trap heat, but not all memory foam is made equally. Yes, they’re denser than traditional coil mattresses and might allow for less circulation—hence, higher temperatures for sleepers—but the right materials can allow for optimal airflow. “Look for one with temperature-regulating fibers or a layer of cooling gel,” says Craig Schmeizer, founder and CEO of Idle Group (which includes companies Idle and Haven).
Myth: Being a Hot Sleeper Is Always Natural
Everyone has a varying baseline body temp, but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily bound to be a warm sleeper for life. “There could be aggravating factors at play,” says Bhuyan. The temperature in your room, eating right before bed, drinking alcohol or caffeine late in the day, and even hormonal fluctuations can lead to unpleasantly warm, restless nights.
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 situation is as cool as ‘the other side of the pillow,’” says Schmeizer. He recommends using a protector made with Tencel fiber, which wicks away excess moisture, leading to overall more comfortable sleep.
Myth: A Fan Lowers 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 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 a more chill 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 you may want to start there when shopping for your next set, but bamboo, hemp, and linen sheets are great options, too.