How to sleep better in a heatwave

Woman sleeping at the end of bed
Woman sleeping at the end of bed (Image credit: Shutterstock)

While everybody loves sunny days, the warm and muggy nights can often make it uncomfortable to fall asleep. And with soaring temperatures, you’ll need to know how to sleep better in a heatwave. Sleeping while hot can inevitably affect the quality of your sleep, which is even worse if you’re sharing your bed with a partner. The constant tossing and turning in bed will only keep you awake, and make you feel even more lethargic the next day.  

Luckily, there are ways to help yourself sleep better in a heatwave, and you don’t even have to spend a fortune on one of the best cooling mattresses, or a brand new air conditioner. So if you want to keep cool on hot nights, follow these top tips for a great, night's snooze. 

If you want a cooler room in the day as well, check out how to cool down a room in a heatwave

1. Upgrade to ‘summer’ pajamas

Women sleeping in pajamas in bed

Women sleeping in pajamas in bed (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Ditch your favorite flannel pajamas and invest in lighter nightwear to keep you cool. The type of material you wear to bed can have an impact on regulating your body temperature as you sleep. Instead of the thick and insulated materials, opt for 100% cotton, bamboo and silk. “Cotton is very lightweight, soft and breathable, allowing good ventilation while you sleep,” agrees Karen Yu, Sleep Expert at Zinus UK.  “Bamboo is great for its sweat-wicking abilities while Silk, on the other hand, is a thermoregulator, keeping you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot.” 

2. Switch to a summer duvet  

White duvet on bed

White duvet on bed (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Duvets may be cozy to snuggle under, but not so much when sleeping in a heatwave. If you don’t wish to simply sleep under a sheet, invest in one of the best duvets with a low tog rating. The less thick it is, the more it will keep you cool at night, and have a great sleep. In addition, change your bedsheets to linen or a lighter material that is less likely to make you overheat at night. You should also know how  to wash your duvet.

3. Opt for a cooling mattress topper or pillows 

Fitting a mattress topper

Fitting a mattress topper (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The best mattress toppers are designed to sit on top of your mattress to add an extra layer of comfort and support at night. But there are also cooling toppers and cooling pillows to specifically handle the warm weather. ”Cooling toppers are a specific type of topper that helps regulate the temperature of your bed to keep things refreshingly cool,” adds Karen from Zinus UK.  “Shop around to find the one that offers the right level of cooling and comfort for you. Since they just fit over your mattress, they’re incredibly easy to remove so you’ll be able to add and take one-off depending on how you want to feel.” To keep it fresh, you’ll need to know how to clean a mattress topper.

4. Create airflow in the room 

Woman opening a window

Woman opening a window (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Most rooms feel stuffy or humid during summertime due to the lack of airflow moving through the room. To keep your bedroom cool, create an airflow through the room, whilst blocking direct sunlight that can make the room warmer. “I would recommend opening the windows on both sides of the house, and when sunlight is directly on the bedroom, shut the curtains, blinds, or shutters,” advised James Wilson, a.k.a The Sleep Geek, Sleep Expert. “Some people find fans useful, and the white noise can be soothing to some (although some find the noise annoying). Putting some cool water in front of a desk fan can help blow cool air around the room.”

In fact, you can also learn how to make your own DIY air conditioner to cool down your room.

5.  Don’t exercise too close to bedtime 

A photo of a woman doing crunches

A photo of a woman doing crunches (Image credit: Shutterstock)

While daily exercise has its sleep benefits, working out too close to bedtime is a no-no. “It’s not a good idea to exercise too close to bedtime as it can raise your core body temperature and heart rate, which can make it harder to fall asleep,” agrees Jane McGuire, Fitness Editor at Tom’s Guide, “This doesn't mean you can't exercise in the evening, just avoid doing anything too strenuous three hours before getting into bed”. This can make it more difficult to fall asleep at your usual bedtime." 

6. Take a cool or lukewarm shower before bed 

Man taking a shower

Man taking a shower (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Typically, your body’s core temperature will start to dip in the evenings or closer to bedtime. By taking a cool or lukewarm shower before bed,  this tricks your body into cooling down quickly, and will help with the release of melatonin. What’s more, you’ll feel even cooler with the extra moisture on your skin and scalp.

7. Rest your feet on a hot water bottle 

Feet on top of a red hot water bottle

Feet on top of a red hot water bottle (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you don’t fancy a cold bath, rest your feet on a lukewarm, hot water bottle instead. “Fill a hot water bottle full of lukewarm water and place your bare feet on it before bed,” suggests James Wilson, The Sleep Geek, “this helps drop your core temperature and prepares you for sleep. You could use a bowl of lukewarm water, or a warm bath or shower.” 

8. Avoid taking a nap 

Woman sleeping with eye mask

Woman sleeping with eye mask (Image credit: Shutterstock)

It may be tempting to take a quick ‘power nap’ when the heat knocks you out, but naps can affect our sleep at night. That's because we're using more energy to regulate our internal temperature. If you have trouble sleeping at night, try to avoid napping during the day and save it for bedtime instead.

9. Keep hydrated — but not too much 

Pouring water from water filter

Pouring water from water filter (Image credit: Shuterstock)

Staying hydrated in a heatwave is essential for us to stay happy and healthy. However, the type of drinks we consume, and how much we're drinking of it, can also have an impact on how we sleep. Experts recommend avoiding drinks that contain caffeine throughout the day. In addition, alcoholic drinks can also impact your sleep, causing restlessness and an increased risk of waking up during the night. Instead, drink plenty of water and  low-sugar drinks throughout the day to help you get a good night’s rest.  

10. Don’t put bedding in the freezer 

Woman putting bedclothes in the freezer drawer

Woman putting bedclothes in the freezer drawer (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Contrary to popular belief, putting things in the freezer before bringing them to bed will not keep you cool. These could include pillows, bedding, towels, socks, hot water bottle or flannels. “Exposing ourselves to freezing temperatures just before we try to sleep is counter productive as it will wake the body up,” advises James Wilson, The Sleep Geek. “Additionally, something frozen creates moisture as it melts, which then heats up and makes your sleep environment hotter. As it melts it leaves a soggy mess in your bed, and nobody wants a soggy mess in their bed!”

What is the best sleeping position in a heatwave?

The best position when it's hot is to sleep on your side. This sleep position will expose a larger portion of your body to the air, letting body heat escape, and helps to regulate your body temperature for a comfortable night. 

If you’re still struggling to sleep at night, check out how to sleep for longer, you can also try these 9 Feng Shui bedroom tips to get a good night's sleep and learn how we could be seeing the end of sleeping pills - Doctors to recommend sleep app for insomnia. Also, If you want to have a more organized linen cupboard, here's how to fold a fitted sheet in less than one minute to save time. 

For more ways to beat the heat, check out our 7 tips for staying cool in a heat wave, how to stop your phone overheating, and tips on how to cool down your car in a heat wave.

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!