Updated December 12, 2022
Sleeping hot is one of the top issues that people face when trying to get a good night's sleep. This article will break down why you might sleep hot, how to sleep cooler, cooling sleep products, and frequently asked questions.
Maintaining a neutral temperature throughout the night is a vital component of deep sleep. The temperature of your bedroom matters, but so does your mattress. According to experts, the ideal sleep temperature is 67°F.
Reasons you're overheating at night:
Your mattress is retaining heat
Your room temperature is too high
You sleep with a partner, kids, or pets that add excess body heat
Your bedding is not breathable
Your pajamas are too bulky or not breathable
You have a health issue - sleep apnea, obesity, menopause, anxiety, hyperthyroidism, and other conditions can be a cause of night sweats or overheating
After comfort and support, a mattress's heat retention is the most important aspect to consider. Mattresses perform differently depending on the materials they're built from. A mattress that is not built with cooling technology will retain heat instead of dissipating it, causing overheating. We'll discuss this more in the cool sleep system section.
Here are a few tips on how to cool down and keep cool while sleeping in different situations.
If you consistently deal with feeling hot at night, you may want to invest in an air conditioner, even if you can only get a small window unit for the bedroom you sleep in. Your sleep quality is important in order to start your day right.
If you're wondering how to sleep in hot weather without AC, here are a few other tips to help you stay cool at night.
How to sleep in a hot room:
Install a ceiling fan
Sleep at the lowest level possible, heat rises
Open the window and blow air in or out with a fan, depending on the outside temperature
Humidity can make the heat feel even more unbearable. Beat the mugginess with a dehumidifier and keep your humidity levels between 40% and 60%
Put a bowl of ice cubes in front of your fan
Add blinds and/or blackout curtains to your windows and keep them closed
Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, they give off less heat (and cost less). If you have incandescent light bulbs, turn them off with enough time before you go to bed so the room has time to cool off
Other than changing your room temperature, here are a few tricks to try that can help you start cooling down before bed.
Freeze a washcloth and use it as a cold compress
Place a wet towel or sheet on top of you (just make sure you have a waterproof mattress protector)
Wipe yourself down with a cool wet cloth
Freeze your sheets. Put them in a bag and place them in the freezer for a little while before you go to bed.
Eat smaller meals before bed and try not to eat during the few hours before you go to sleep
Take a warm shower or bath about an hour before bed, when you get out your body temperature will begin to cool down. You can also take a cold shower for more immediate cooling
Spread out - sleeping in more of a 'spread eagle' position will allow your limbs more space to cool off instead of trapping heat
Drink some cold water - being hydrated helps your body thermoregulate and drinking cool liquids helps you feel cooler
Have a popsicle or another cold snack (just don't eat anything substantial right before bed)
Avoid exercise right before bed
Buy a mattress or mattress pad that is cool-to-the-touch
Invest in a cooling mattress
Use breathable, cooling bedding - sheets, pillow, topper
Wear lightweight sleepwear in breathable fabrics or sleep nude
Sleep alone if possible
If no matter what you do, you're having night sweats, go to a doctor. You may have a condition that is causing you to have overheating issues or you may need to switch up your meds if they're the problem.
The best advice for how to sleep cool at night is to create your own cool sleep system. This includes your room temperature, mattress, pillow, sheets, and possibly a pad or topper. We already discussed what to do about your room temperature, we'll break the rest of the sleep system down for you so you can start sleeping cooler.
Most modern mattresses have cooling materials built into them because of how important a cooler sleep environment is for quality rest. Mattress manufacturers have been more thoughtful about the sleep environment of their customers. Listening to the needs and desires of their customers, materials like gel memory foam and latex foam have become almost standard.
Different types of mattresses will tend to retain heat more or less, depending on their materials. We'll break down what to look for in a cooling mattress.
Related: Best Mattress for Cooling
Heat retention was never a huge issue with innerspring mattresses. The innerspring structure generally has plenty of open space to allow airflow to dissipate body heat. The only real factor with innerspring mattresses is the quilt top. Any reputable mattress manufacturer will use a breathable quilt that won't cause issues.
Coil edge support rather than foam edge support can help with breathability, and gel foams or breathable foams in the comfort layers also contribute to a cooler night. Some mattresses will have cooling technology in the quilt cover.
Heat retention became important when memory foam technology revolutionized the industry. The dense nature of memory foam means the material may not be breathable and may not wick away moisture. It also may absorb and retain body heat which traps it rather than dissipate it. These factors can lead to hot, sweaty, restless sleep.
These issues were not well addressed during the early generations of memory foam mattresses. Since then, mattress companies have become aware of this issue and made great strides to combat an overly hot mattress temperature.
New technologies that help memory foam stay cooler:
Gel-infused memory foam
Temperature regulating quilts
Open-cell memory foam (more breathable)
Hybrid construction (coils beneath the memory foam add breathability)
Mattresses that use natural materials instead of foam tend to sleep cooler because they excel at breathability. These are generally innerspring mattresses with natural materials as the comfort padding but some latex mattresses are natural as well.
Cotton, wool, and latex are all going to allow air circulation that will prevent heat from getting trapped in the mattress.
Another alternative to memory foam and innerspring mattresses are latex. Latex shares many of the benefits of memory foam. It's a natural material (although sometimes blended with synthetic materials) and tends to feel cooler than memory foam.
Latex tends to conduct and dissipate body heat better. It can also be infused with gel to enhance its cooling properties.
All in all, heat retention is something you should be aware of when shopping for a new mattress. Look for cooling comfort layers, the type of construction, and reviews that mention if a mattress sleeps hot. Not all mattresses are created equally, and this definitely applies to the cooling aspect.
Some mattress brands that are known to be great for cooling are:
Tempur-Pedic - specifically the Breeze mattresses
Serta Arctic - packed with cooling technology
Talapedic - latex mattresses
Stearns & Foster - features that make them very breathable
Joybed - uses only natural materials like cotton and wool
Vispring - luxury natural mattresses
Another important part of your cooling sleep system is the pillow. Certain types of pillows will retain heat more than others. Some pillows have cooling technology built in. And some pillows are just naturally more breathable. Pillows made of memory foam without gel are most likely to sleep hot.
Pillows made with cotton, latex, gel foam, or shredded foam sleep cooler.
A good pair of cooling sheets is essential to your sleep cooling system. Whether you want a natural fabric that's breathable or something that's cool to the touch, this needs to be part of your approach. They touch your skin all night, so the wrong pair of sheets can really contribute to overheating.
High-quality bedding made with natural fibers such as cotton will go a long way toward cooler sleep.
If you can't or don't want to change up your mattress, a cooling pad or topper can also help you out. There are quite a few options available.
Go with something that's naturally breathable or something with cooling technology such as gel foam.
Countless sleep studies have pointed to the environment around us as a major contributing factor to the quality of our sleep. One universal environmental factor is the temperature in our bedrooms.
Sleep experts agree that a cooler temperature in your bedroom aids in quality REM sleep. When you get better quality sleep, your body heals more, you feel better during the day, your memory improves, and many other benefits.
Cooling down also helps you fall asleep faster. Your body temperature naturally drops when you fall asleep, and a cool room is a signal to your body that it's time for rest.
If you have a baby that's not falling asleep well, it's possible your baby is too hot. One way to help is to dress your baby in light breathable clothing. Natural fabrics such as cotton are usually better than synthetic fabrics like polyester for keeping your baby cool.
The same advice above also applies, you should keep the room temperature around 67 degrees if possible and provide them with age-appropriate bedding that is breathable and cool.
Other than keeping your baby at a comfortable temperature, it's important to make sure they are safe. Read what the American Academy of Pediatrics has to say on how to keep your sleeping baby safe. They recommend having your baby sleep on their back on a flat surface, avoiding soft bedding, and having them sleep alone, as well as a few other guidelines.
Related: Sleeping Tips for New Parents
1. Does your body temperature rise when you sleep? Does your body temperature drop when you sleep?
Both. Your body temperature drops as you fall asleep, it's an essential part of heading towards a good night's sleep. You sleep better when you're cooler, and your body temperature tends to be a couple degrees cooler while you're asleep than while you're awake. However, it can still go both up and down throughout the night just like during the day.
Typically, as your temperature rises, you become more awake. This is why your temperature begins rising as it gets closer to the morning, getting you ready to wake up.
2. What is the best temperature for sleeping?
Experts say the best sleeping temperature is between 60-67 degrees.
3. Is it better to sleep cold or hot?
You will not sleep well if you're too cold or too hot, but usually, you need to cool down a bit to sleep well.
4. Why does your body temperature drop when you sleep
Your body temperature drops because your muscles and body are less active during sleep.
5. What is the best AC temperature for sleeping?
Set your air conditioning to cool your room down to between 65-67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you really love a cold room, you can go down to about 60 degrees comfortably.
6. Why do I get so hot when I sleep?
There are a variety of reasons, often stemming from health issues or your environment. You may be sleeping in too hot of a room, your bedding or mattress may be retaining heat, or your partner's body could be raising your temperature.
Health issues such as sleep apnea, obesity, menopause, anxiety, hyperthyroidism, etc. can cause overheating at night.
7. Do hot showers help you sleep?
They can! A hot shower can help you relax. A good time for this is about an hour before you go to bed. Your body will begin to cool down from the shower, similar to how your body needs to cool down when you go to sleep.
It cools you down because of the water evaporating from your skin and the boost to your circulation which helps your body naturally regulate itself.
8. Can you get sick from sleeping in a hot room?
Yes, if the temperature is too high, you may get heat illness.
9. Do babies sleep better warm or cool?
Babies will sleep best if they are not overly hot or too cold. The best temperature for sleeping is right around 67 degrees.
10. Do latex mattresses sleep cool?
Latex is fairly decent at dissipating heat, so it's often cooler than memory foam, but it depends on the construction of the bed and the quality of the latex foam. Check the reviews on the mattress you're looking at to see if anyone mentions overheating issues.
11. Why do some mattresses sleep hot?
Certain mattresses sleep hot because they do not circulate enough air. When they lack breathability, the heat gets trapped in the mattress and builds up throughout the night.
12. Why does memory foam sleep hot?
Memory foam tends to sleep hot because it is not as breathable as natural materials like cotton. Manufacturers have solved this by making a more breathable version called open-cell memory foam and by adding gel to the foam to conduct the heat away.
If you need more information about maintaining a cooler sleep environment you can reach out to our bedding experts at 800-455-1052 for more information. Our experts can recommend a product to help cool you down for a better night's sleep!
Juliana has spent several years in the mattress industry, writing about and reviewing mattresses. She has a deep understanding of how mattresses work for different people and affect sleep.