I’m a hot sleeper, or rather I was – this bedlinen has made overheating a thing of the past

If, like me, you're a hot sleeper, this is my top tip for sleeping cooler this summer

A bedroom with large black-framed windows and a bed dressed with a blue linen duvet cover and pillows
(Image credit: Piglet in Bed)

I’m a hot sleeper, in fact I’m pretty warm-blooded in general, and tend to run warm when most people report feeling a little chilly.

I don’t need there to be a heatwave to find myself waking up in the middle of the night a hot and sticky mess and kicking off the sheets to get some cool air on my skin.

Broken sleep is one of the biggest causes of tiredness, so this pattern definitely isn’t ideal, but, as a hot sleeper, I thought this was just something I had to accept. That was until I encountered linen bedding.

As Ideal Home’s Sleep Editor I get to test out all kinds of products for our guides to the best duvets, best pillows, and where to buy the best bedding. This is when I came across the answer to how to sleep better – which for me meant finding the bed linen that finally helped me to sleep cooler.

A bedroom with a low hanging light raffia pendant and a bed dressed in white linen bedlinen with a wooden chair holding books and a vase

(Image credit: Bedfolk)

Why linen bedding is great for hot sleepers

There isn’t just one factor that helped me transform from a hot sleeper to someone who slept cool overnight, but linen bedding has definitely been a key part of the puzzle.

Finding the ideal bedroom temperature and figuring out how to keep a bedroom cool can help, but when summer kicks in and the mercury begins to soar, these linen bedding sets are the first thing I reach for.

But how did swapping to a linen duvet cover and bed sheets transform my sleep quality? I’ve enlisted the help of various bedding experts to help me explain.

Linen is highly breathable

The main reason that linen is such a wonder fabric for hot sleepers is because it's one of the most breathable bedding fabrics out there.

'Made from the flax plant, linen's unique weave and long natural fibers allow air to flow through the fabric freely' says Jessica Hanley, Founder and CEO, of bed linen manufacturer Piglet in Bed. This means that body heat doesn't get trapped under the covers as we sleep but is able to dissipate away during the night – ideal for those of us who tend to sleep warm.

Chris Tattersall, Sleep Expert and MD of bedding brand Woolroom agrees, explaining that it's the fabric's 'loose weave that promotes airflow'.

A wooden bed dressed with pale pink linen bedlinen and a sculptural artwork on the wall

(Image credit: Bed Threads)

Whilst Soile Makkonen, Founder of linen specialists Ada & Ina, explains that this isn't the only reason we sleep cooler under a linen duvet or sheet. The structure of the fibres themselves also play a part.

'Linen is exceptionally breathable, allowing air to circulate easily through the fabric. The structure of flax fibres (from which linen is made) contributes to its cooling properties. These fibres are hollow and can trap air, providing natural insulation and breathability. This unique structure helps to keep you cool during hot summer nights by preventing heat from being trapped around your body', she explains.

And, although it may sound counterintuitive, it's these hollow fibres that also make linen bedding a great choice all year round, as in cooler temperatures, its insulating properties help to trap warmth.

'Linen bedding adjusts to body temperature, cooling you down if you're too hot, and offering warmth if it's cold - perfect for year-round sleeping' agrees James Montgomery-Castle, Junior Buyer at bedding retailer Soak & Sleep.

A bedroom with large black-framed windows and a bed dressed with a blue linen duvet cover and pillows

(Image credit: Piglet in Bed)

Linen is great at moisture regulation

However, waking up in the middle of the night due to overheating isn't all about temperature.

Getting too warm and not being able to regulate our temperature makes us sweat, and even if you're not prone to this level of overheating, all of our bodies release humidity and moisture. If this moisture can't dissipate, that's when we tend to wake up in a hot and sticky 3am mess.

Thankfully, linen is also a great fabric for moisture control. 'Linen fibres are highly absorbent and quickly draw moisture away from the skin', says Chris from Woolroom. 'This helps to keep you cool and dry throughout the night'.

'The fabric's fibers can soak up about one-fifth of their weight in water', agrees Jessica of Piglet in Bed, 'meaning any sweat that appears on your skin’s surface is wicked away sharpish'.

A bed dressed with yellow gingham linen bed linen and a wooden bedside table holding a lamp and a vase with yellow flowers

(Image credit: Piglet in Bed)

Soile of Ada & Ina goes on to explain that as well as 'linen being able to absorb a significant amount of moisture – up to 20% of its weight – without feeling damp, it also dries quickly, which is advantageous if you perspire at night. This quick-drying property ensures that your bedding remains fresh and comfortable, rather than becoming clammy or damp'.

Having slept under linen during several heatwaves, I can confirm that this is true. I found linen bedding brilliant at preventing me from getting hot and sticky in the first place, and it never felt uncomfortably damp during those nights when the mercury really soars and perspiration is impossible to avoid.

Linen has plenty more plus points

If you're a hot sleeper like me, then in my opinion linen sheets and duvet cover are an investment that's well worth making. However, breathability and moisture regulation aren't the only thing this bedding has in its favour.

'Linen is incredibly durable and becomes softer with every wash, providing long lasting comfort' says, Woolroom's Chris Tattersall.

A white panelled bedroom with a bed dressed in pale sage green and white linen bedding

(Image credit: Bed Threads)

'Cotton is also durable but can wear out faster than linen with frequent washing, especially high-thread-count cotton sheets', agrees Soile Makkonen of Ada & Ina.

Jessica of Piglet in Bed is also a fan of how low maintenance linen is, and I'm certainly a fan of the fact linen bedding still looks great without any ironing. 'The fabric's natural crinkles evoke the same calming feelings that arise when you spend time in nature, making it so inviting' Jessica enthuses.

Lastly, Jo James, Founder & Creative Director of Bedfolk, advises us to 'look out for linens made from Belgian and French flax, which are the highest quality and just get softer with use – if cared for properly, quality linen sheets can be passed down for generations. I’d recommend ‘garment washed linen’ for a super-soft, vintage feel from night one'.

Where to shop linen bedding


A wooden bedframe in front of a large bay window with white shutters. The bed is dressed with terracotta linen bedding

(Image credit: Piglet in Bed)

Lastly, there is one caveat to this advice. If you're a hot sleeper then it will pay to address all aspects of your sleep set-up to ensure that your bedding is offering you the coolest sleep possible. For instance, if you buy linen bedlinen but are using it over a synthetic duvet or a dense memory foam mattress, then breathability will likely still be impaired.

Instead, opting for one of the best mattresses for hot sleepers – like a mattress made from breathable natural materials – and one of the best duvets for hot sleepers – such as a breathable and naturally temperature-regulating wool-filled duvet – will give you the foundation for a cool and restful night's sleep. If your budget won't stretch to a whole new mattress right now, then one of the best cooling mattress toppers could also help.

Then your linen bedlinen will be the breathable cherry on the cake.

Amy Lockwood
Sleep Editor

 

Amy is Ideal Home’s Sleep Editor. She’s spent the last three years researching and testing all things sleep for our audiences whether that’s sorting the wheat from the chaff in our hunt for the best mattress or learning about materials to uncover the best duvet for various sleep needs. She also lends her expertise to our furniture guides, sharing her design knowledge with our readers to help them choose the right sofa for their interior or the best garden furniture for their outside space.