5 ways a hot water bottle helps you get to sleep fast in cold weather

A woman sleeps with a blue hot water bottle
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're looking for ways to get to sleep fast and to stay asleep through these colder nights coming in, the solution could be buried at the back of one of your cupboards: a humble hot water bottle. 

According to Max Kirsten, resident sleep expert for Panda London, there’s a simple, cost-effective way to make sure the frosty weather doesn’t interfere with your sleep: a hot water bottle. 

Hot water bottles are an old-school way of making the best mattresses warm and toasty without swelling your heating bills, but it also helps you to doze off. In this article, Kirsten shares five key ways a hot water bottle can stop the cold, winter air from interfering with your sleep. 

Plus, if you’re new to using a hot water bottle, Kirsten shares how to use a hot water bottle effectively and what to look out for when buying a new one. 

5 ways a hot water bottle helps you get to sleep fast

1. Hot water bottles relax your body for sleep

Need to de-stress after a long day at work? While hot water bottles are mostly used for keeping Jack Frost at bay, Max Kirsten points out that the heat can also have a calming physical effect on the body. “The warmth from a hot water bottle can help relax your muscles and soothe tension. This physical relaxation can make it easier for you to unwind and prepare for sleep.” 

2. Hot water bottles provide deep sleep comfort

Similar to how a child is comforted by a security blanket cuddly toy, consider a hot water bottle your cozy companion at bedtime. “Holding a warm object, like a hot water bottle, can provide a sense of comfort and security,” shares Kirsten. “This can have a psychological calming effect, helping to reduce anxiety and promote a more relaxed state of mind.” 

A woman in a thick grey cardigan cuddles a red hot water bottle and a white mug of hot tea

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. They regulate your body's core temperature

Our bodies naturally cool down in the evening as a way to prepare for sleep, and hot water bottles help our bodies to get there faster. “Your body temperature naturally drops as you prepare for sleep. The warmth from a hot water bottle can help regulate your body temperature, making the transition to sleep smoother.” 

4. They create a better sleep environment

What makes a bedroom relaxing? Is it a soft, plush mattress? A fluffy pillow? Dimmed lights? While sleep products, ambient lighting, and even scent can help you fall asleep, Kisten says that temperature also creates a “cozy and inviting sleep environment”. “This can be particularly beneficial during colder nights, helping you to feel more comfortable as you settle into bed.”

5. Hot water bottles ease sleep-disturbing pain 

Aches and pains are awful, especially when they stop you from getting a good night’s sleep. While some may treat with an ice pack, you can turn to the other end of the thermometer and apply heat. “If you have minor aches or pains, the heat from a hot water bottle can provide relief,” advises Kirsten. 

“This can be especially helpful for conditions like muscle soreness or menstrual cramps.” Simply apply the hot water bottle to the affected area and let the warmth soothe any inflammation.

How to use a hot water bottle to get to sleep fast

If you’re new to using hot water bottles to help you get to sleep fast, Kirsten shares three simple steps for getting the most out of your new bedtime companion:

  • Fill the bottle with hot water: Make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for filling and sealing the hot water bottle to prevent leaks.
  • Place it in your bed: Put the hot water bottle in your bed a short time before you plan to sleep to warm up the sheets.
  • Hold or hug it: If you find it comforting, you can hold the hot water bottle or place it in specific areas where you might feel tension or discomfort.

A woman wearing a pink sleep vests lies in bed with a white hot water bottle

(Image credit: Getty Images)

However, hot water bottles contain, well, hot water, so be careful when using them to avoid burns and leaks— especially when applying them to a sore area. 

“Make sure the bottle is covered with a cloth or towel to prevent direct contact with your skin,” Kristen advises. “It's also important to use hot water bottles that are designed for this purpose and to follow any safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer.”

The best hot water bottles for sleeping

‌As the NHS advises replacing your hot water bottle every two years, it’s important to know what to look for when buying one. “When choosing a hot water bottle for sleep, it's essential to prioritise safety and quality,” Kirsten tells us. 

There’s a wide range of hot water bottles to buy both in-store and on-line, especially during colder months, so here’s what Kirsten says to consider:

  • Material: Your two main options when buying a hot water bottle are ones made from rubber and ones made from PVC — and Kirsten says both types come with pros and cons. “Rubber tends to retain heat longer, but some people may have latex allergies,” he says. “PVC bottles are an alternative but may not retain heat as well.”
  • Size: Hot water bottles come in all shapes and sizes — from large ones to mini travel-size ones — so Kirsten says to choose a size that suits your needs. “A larger bottle holds more water and can provide warmth for a more extended period, but it might be bulkier,” he says.“Smaller bottles are more portable and can be suitable for targeted relief.”
  • Cover: While you can buy a hot water bottle only, most hot water bottles come with covers or have ones available to purchase. Covers come in all different materials, colours, and designs. You can get cosy knitted covers, quirky fluffy covers, even ones designed to look like your favourite animal. Not only do covers add a bit of personalisation to your hot water bottle, they’re also important for care and comfort. “ A cover not only provides insulation but also prevents direct contact with the hot surface, reducing the risk of burns,” explains Kirsten. “It can also make the bottle more comfortable to hold.”
  • Ease of Use: Last but not least, Kirsten tells us to look for a hot water bottle that is easy to fill and secure tightly to avoid leaks. “Some bottles come with a screw-in or snap-on cap, and it's important to ensure a proper seal to prevent accidents,” he says. 
Frances Daniels
Sleep Staff Writer

Frances Daniels is a Sleep Staff Writer at Tom's Guide and her role includes covering all mattress and sleep news, in addition to mattress reviews and buyer's guides, plus sleep accessories such as pillows and mattress toppers. Frances is a PPA-accredited journalist and is hugely interested in the relationship between good sleep and overall health. When not writing about mattresses and sleep for Tom's Guide, Frances enjoys writing about women's issues, health and wellbeing, the environment, and her native Wales.