Too hot to sleep? Here’s how to stay cool in bed

Sweltering summer nights ruining your sleep? Check out these simple tricks and miracle products to banish the heatwave from the bedroom
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  • All year long, most of us dream of a hot summer – and in 2020, we’ve been particularly fortunate so far.  But – and as much as we hate to complain – when the weather suddenly becomes freakishly warm, it can play havoc with our sleep.

    See more of our bedroom ideas

    While most of us lap up the sunshine during the day, those long hot nights are notable for the absence of shut-eye. According to a recent survey by, 62 per cent of Brits are struggling to sleep due to the hot weather we’re currently experiencing.

    After a few hours of tossing and turning, we all want to know one thing – what can we do when the mercury rises and it’s too hot to sleep?

    Too hot to sleep - try a bedroom fan

    ‘A baking bedroom can impact on our comfort,’ agrees Simon Williams of the National Bed Federation (NBF). ‘Your body temperature needs to drop slightly before you go to bed, which is why you just can’t sleep when you’re too hot.

    ‘An ideal bedroom temperature should be around 16 to 18°C, so it can be difficult to get comfortable in a hot and stuffy space, which leaves many people suffering from a disturbed night’s sleep.’

    Fortunately, there are some amazing ways to stay cool when it’s too hot to sleep. From cooling pillows to creating airflow, try these simple and effective steps to ensure you stay cool and comfortable in bed this summer.

    1. Keep out the heat

    Keep curtains or blinds drawn during the day to keep the sun out. Blackout blinds were made for this sort of weather and shutters will also come into their own, blocking the light while letting in the air.

    Lights and appliances can generate a lot of heat, so turn them off unless you need them.

    2. Encourage airflow in your bedroom

    Open as many windows and doors as possible to allow air to circulate. Even cracking windows at the front and the back of a house creates a slight through draft that will pull warm air out and allow the rooms to cool.

    If you’ve got an attic, try opening the hatch. Hot air rises and this will give it somewhere to go.

    3. Head to a different room

    Some rooms of the house are naturally cooler than others. Remember that heat rises, so you might find downstairs areas less oppressive on a warm night. North-facing rooms also tend to be a lot cooler than those in the rest of a property.

    Even if you can’t relocate your bedroom permanently, it might be worth sleeping on a sofa or air bed.

    Related: Best air beds – the best air mattresses for comfy camping and snug sleepovers

    4. Cool your bed

    Cool bed sheets - How to stay cool in bed

    • Get rid of thick duvets and blankets – ideally use a cotton sheet, but if you have to have a duvet, go for the lowest tog rating you can find.
    • Opt for natural materials in your bed and bedding. Man-made polycotton, acrylic and viscose are essentially made of plastic, so they can’t absorb moisture or conduct heat away from your body. 100-per-cent cotton sheets are a gift for hot nights. And check out Hypnos for a fab range of natural bedding buys, too.
    • Fill a hot water bottle and put it in the freezer before you go to sleep.
    • Cool a pillowcase in the fridge before bedtime or try one of the new cooling pillows that are available to buy. Filled with a temperature reactive gel, the pillows absorb excess heat, drawing it away from your body and cooling your skin.
    • Another great trick is putting your bed sheet in the fridge or freezer (use a zip-lock bag to keep it dry). Take it out just before you’re ready to sleep and it will be perfectly chilled.

    5. Wear the right clothes to bed

    • Wear light cotton nightwear. This is actually better than wearing nothing at all, as natural fabrics will absorb any perspiration.
    • Cool socks in the fridge and wear them. Cooling your feet lowers the overall temperature of your skin and body.
    • If you’ve got long hair, tie it back. Hair around your neck can make you feel warmer.

    6. Use cool technology to sleep smarter

    • Use an electric fan. Quiet tower fans with timers and a choice of settings are the smart choice if you struggle to fall asleep, but desk fans and pedestal fans will do the job nicely, too. If it’s really hot, put a shallow bowl of iced water in front of the fan to cool the air.

    Looking for the perfect model? Best fans for cooling and heating your home

    • Next time you buy a new bed, look out for one that incorporates new temperature regulating technology.

    7. Try natural ways to sleep easier

    Large en suite shower room shower rooms Colin Poole

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    • Keep a cool head – getting worked up is only going to compound the problem, as thrashing around will make you hotter. Keep perfectly still and maybe try meditation techniques.
    • Have a cool shower or bath before bedtime to lower your core body temperature.
    • ‘Cold press’ your pulse points. The pulse points on your body can cool the rest of you effectively. Place a cold flannel or ice cubes in a plastic bag on your wrists and neck and you’ll be surprised by the effectiveness. Just don’t let them melt in your bed!
    • Think about essential oils. Lavender is a fantastic sleep aid. Try mixing a few drops with cold water in a small spritz bottle, and spray around your bedroom before you hit the hay.
    • Drink plenty of cold water during the evening and keep a glass by the bed.
    • Avoid too much caffeine, alcohol or a big meal. They can all make you feel hot and steamy in the middle of the night through dehydration and over-active digestion.
    • No alcohol – dehydrating yourself before sleep on a hot night isn’t the best decision, obviously. Stay away from the drink to heighten your chances of sleep during a heat wave.

    Too hot to sleep? Try these cool new products

    The cooling pillow

    Chillmax cooling pillow

    Buy now: Chillmax Cooling Pillow Gel Insert, £9.99, JML

    Chillmax Pillow’s inner gel reacts to your body temperature to absorb excess heat, drawing it away from your skin to produce a natural cooling effect for up to three hours.

    Too hot to sleep

    The iGel’s patented formula works with your body’s natural temperature, so that you don’t get too hot or too cold at night. That’s because phase change crystals inside iGel respond to your body temperature to absorb excess heat when you are too hot or release stored heat when you are too cold – to keep you at a comfortable temperature.

    Buy now:  iGel Pillow, £59, Bensons for Beds

    The cooling mattress topper

    dunelm cooling mattress topper

    Buy now: Gel Fushion Memory Foam Mattress Topper, £125 for a double, Dunelm

    If you’re not in the market for buying a new mattress, this topper is made from a gel-infused memory foam that absorbs and disperses body heat while providing excellent support and comfort. It also has ventilation holes through the foam to allow airflow and breathability.

    The cooling mattress

    Buy now: Coen 1000 Pocket Double Mattress with Coolmax Cover, £395, Habitat

    Clever design and smart materials encourage airflow around the body. Not only comfortable, it’s cool, too.

    Sleep in comfort: Best mattress – the top choices for a perfect night’s sleep, now updated for 2019

    The cooling mattress protector

    Cooling mattress protector
    Buy now: Temperature Regulating Waterproof  Double Mattress Cover, £60, John Lewis & Partners

    Originally developed for NASA, this clever mattress cover sandwiches a layer of thermo-regulator material between a waterproof base and a breathable cotton top. During the night it absorbs excess body heat, stores it and releases it to keep you at an optimum temperature while you sleep.

    So there you have it – hopefully a good night’s sleep is within your grasp! Stay cool, kids.

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