26 Tips to Cool Down At Night
11 min read
Last Modified 17 January 2024 First Added 10 July 2015
We all look forward to long summer days and hot weather. But the sweaty, sleepless nights? That’s another matter.
A key part of falling asleep is allowing your body temperature to drop. This regulation of your core temperature is also essential for avoiding broken sleep. And with 34% of the nation reporting disturbed sleep due to feeling too hot, we highly recommend exploring tips to stay cool at night. To help, we’ve identified 26 ways to do exactly that:
Freeze a damp washcloth (flannel) and take it to bed. It’ll keep you cool as you fall asleep, particularly if you place it on your forehead. This is because blood vessels on your head sit very close to the surface of your skin. Cooling these blood vessels on your head using a frozen flannel can significantly affect how hot or cold you feel.
Even when the body is wrapped up warm in a duvet, your body’s core temperature can still drop quickly if you apply cold treatments to your head and face. That said, the old wives’ tale of losing around 80% of our heat through our heads isn’t accurate. In reality, it’s about 10% — not so surprising given the head takes up around 7% of the body’s surface area.
Fill a hot water bottle and pop it in the freezer for a bed-friendly icepack. Don’t forget that water expands when it freezes, so don’t fill your water bottle up to the brim to avoid bursting it. Once frozen, wrap it up in a towel and cuddle up to it like you would a hot water bottle. Alternatively, place it on the hottest body parts, notably your head, chest or legs.
If you’re one of the 39% of the nation who sleep in pyjamas, choose a loose, cotton style. This will help to wick moisture away and provide breathability. Synthetic materials such as nylon or silk may feel soft on the skin, but they aren’t breathable and can make you feel hotter.
Those in the camp of sleeping nude (11% of the UK!) should remember that it can actually make you feel hotter during sleep. That’s because there is no moisture-wicking fabric between you and your sheets. If you do sleep nude or in underwear only, you’ll want to apply the same theory to your bedding. Namely, natural materials such as cotton are best.
Some of the largest of the body’s pulse points are the tops of your feet and the insides of your ankles. Blood coming to the surface of your skin is one of the body’s key ways of cooling down in a process known as vasodilation. Cooling down these areas as quickly as possible is a great way of lowering your core temperature. Therefore, keeping your feet out of the covers and not wearing socks to bed can help keep you cool all the way through the night.
The Egyptian sleeping method involves wrapping yourself in a damp sheet while sleeping to lower the body’s temperature and provide a more comfortable environment.
Before bed, put your bed sheets on a quick spin cycle to ensure the sheets are damp but not saturated. Then make your bed as usual. The damp sheets will allow for a pleasant cooling sensation, although the wet sensation isn’t for everyone.
Alternatively, you could use damp towels for a halfway approach. Legends say the ancient Egyptians used this technique to keep cool on hot nights, although the accuracy of this is debated.
Eating smaller meals more frequently will reduce the heat produced by your metabolism – keeping you more relaxed at night. Essentially, heavier meals packed with dense proteins and carbohydrates require more energy to break down and can increase body temperature. However, getting the proper nutrients is still equally important. Instead of dense carbs or proteins, substitute for lighter alternatives such as salads, fish and rice. This is especially important in summer when light salads and high-water percentage meals also help keep you hydrated as dehydration can lead to poorer sleep quality.
As well as optimising what’s included in your evening meal, it’s equally important to consider timing. Try to avoid eating at least an hour and a half before bed. This ensures your metabolism will have done most of its hard work digesting food before you aim for the land of nod. Simply, when your metabolism is working hard, your heart rate and blood flow increase, and therefore, your body temperature too.
Keep the air flowing in your bedroom and create a cool breeze over your bed. You can do this by facing a fan towards an open window with your bed in between. This allows hot air to be pushed out of the room, leaving room for cooler fresh air from outside to be allowed in. This will also encourage natural airflow throughout the room. If you have a ceiling fan, set the blades to rotate anti-clockwise as this creates a comfortable breeze or ‘wind chill’ effect. Ceiling fans turned anti-clockwise push cold air downward to help you feel cooler.
Whilst we recommend using one fan to push hot air out, use a second fan positioned inwards to circulate cool air around the room. To ensure the fan blows cool air, and isn’t just circulating existing warm air, place a bowl filled with ice cubes in front of the fan. For the best effect, try propping up the bowl so as much air from the fan blows over the ice. Ice absorbs heat as it melts and the air will cool as the ice melts. This essentially creates a DIY air-conditioning unit as warm air goes out and cold air comes out.
Swap your large fluffy pillow for a smaller, more breathable replacement. Your head is one of the hottest parts of your body, and a fluffy pillow will further contain heat. Choosing a looser cover and breathable material allows air to be circulated. For ultimate impact, consider one with an ActiCool cover like the TheraPur Cool Pillow.
Heat rises, so consider sleeping on a low platform bed. If you have the option, you can also consider swapping your bedroom to the ground floor of your house to ensure your sleep environment is as cool as possible.
Light-coloured, lightweight linens are best at keeping a bed ventilated. You may also consider getting a summer duvet with a lower tog rating to help let the heat escape – between 2.5-4.5 tog is recommended for summer. The Silentnight 4.5 Tog Summer Fresh Duvet is ideal for hot summer days due to its low tog rating and anti-allergy and irritation-free properties. In the winter, opt for extra blankets which you can easily throw off in the night rather than a thick, winter duvet.
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As mattresses are large, dense items, they can easily trap your body heat, keeping your temperature sky-high. Swapping your heat-trapping mattress for a modest bamboo or straw mat could be a great summer option. These materials are breathable, moisture-wicking and surprisingly soft on the skin, helping you to keep cooler at night. The downside is that they may not be as comfortable to lie on as your regular mattress, yet you won’t feel so hot. If that’s a concern, plenty of natural mattresses combine the cooling properties of eco-materials with the comfort of pocket springs.
Simply swap out your old mattress for a modern mattress with temperature technology. These are designed to promote breathability and temperature regulation to help you sleep easily. Gel and latex mattresses are ideal for keeping the temperature low. Memory foam, not so much. Look for a mattress with thermo-regulating properties like the TheraPur ActiGel range that provides both aeration and comfort with its open-air structure – perfect for a cool night’s slumber.
Explore our full collection of mattresses.
Hanging mid-air in a hammock will allow for better airflow to take away heat from your body. The nature of a hammock also means that there is less material beneath you, reducing the amount of insulation. The gentle rocking of a hammock can also help people fall asleep faster and enter into a deeper state of sleep more easily. On a hot evening, anything to help you fall asleep quicker is always a bonus.
Taking a warm shower or bath before bed may sound counterproductive to cooling down, but it helps lower your body temperature. It acts as a kickstart to your body temperature dropping, allowing it to continue that process once you get into bed. One study for the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine identified that hot water bathing is significantly associated with faster onset of sleep.
Keeping the blinds shut during the day can help keep your bedroom cool. It’s important to note that this must be coupled with turning off your heating. That’s because blinds keep sunlight out but can also contain heat. Consider opening your window beforehand for a while to allow any hot air out then shut your blinds. If you can keep your window slightly open with the blinds closed, that’ll help too.
A consistent exercise regime does wonders for sleep, mainly if it’s completed in the morning. This post from Johns Hopkins Medicine, which digs into recent scientific research, shows reduced sleep complaints when coupled with daily exercise. They go as far as saying that exercise shows similar results to sleeping pills!
The morning is better because anything that gets the blood pumping near bedtime is generally deemed counter-intuitive to sleep. It’s also likely true that those who complete morning exercise are up earlier and, therefore, more tired when it comes to bedtime.
Alongside freezing a damp cloth or hot-water bottle, freezing your socks aids sleep. As identified, part of the body’s natural rhythm before sleep centres around body temperature reduction, especially in the feet. This quick trick is a surefire way to kickstart that process.
As a reduction in temperature is so important to sleep, sleeping alone can help. Of course, there are other benefits too, including not being awoken by the movement or snoring of a partner. According to sleepjunkies.com, those who sleep with a partner get less REM sleep and have increased physical activity throughout the night. In short, this means their sleep isn’t as restful as those sleeping alone.
Limiting alcohol before bed (and in general) is conducive to greater sleep. Sure, the sedative properties of alcohol can help you fall asleep in the short term but throughout the night you are more likely to wake as your body metabolizes the alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic, which simply means it causes your body to remove fluids from your blood faster than other liquids. This is why you wake up in the middle of the night with an incredibly dry mouth!
Routine is essential to pretty much every aspect of human health. With sleep, it’s no different. The more you train your body to know when it’s bedtime, the more quickly you can fall asleep. And through that ease of falling asleep, you are less likely to have disrupted sleep and wake up hot in the middle of the night. The biological rhythm, which relates to sleep, is known as the circadian rhythm, and it’s only through routine that you can keep it in check.
Put your pillow into a ziplock bag and let it rest in the freezer for 30 minutes before you sleep. As mentioned earlier, your head and face are two key areas which help reduce your body temperature. This is why so many of us love the cold side of the pillow!
Your pulse points are places on your body where you can feel your heartbeat, such as your neck, wrists, and temple. These respond well to temperature change and can rapidly reduce how hot you feel. Apply your frozen hot water bottle or flannel to your pulse points to quickly cool your body down.
To help you sleep in the heat, consider adding a refreshing salad to your evening meal. Include hydrating fruits and vegetables like cucumber, celery, oranges, watermelon, peaches, and leafy greens such as kale and lettuce. According to Chinese medicine, they are water-rich and can cool down your body.
Whether you’re freezing a water bottle or sleeping like an Egyptian – use our tips to enjoy everything a cool and relaxed sleep has to offer. Before you go, take a look at our infographic on how to stay cool at night, which includes our favourite tips.