Sleeping cool is not rocket science.
As long as you know what’s making you hot, you can find a way to enjoy a cool night’s sleep all year round.
In most cases, your bedroom environment is to blame – and you, if you are a naturally hot sleeper.
In some cases, however, your bedding or your mattress are the problem. Either your sheets and blanket are not breathable, or your mattress traps heat.
In this cool-sleeping guide, we explain 10 proven ways to sleep cool at any time of the year.
These methods range from pricey solutions like a bed climate control system to free methods that use common household items.
All of these methods really work, too.
So let’s dive in!
Why You Need To Sleep Cool
Sleeping cool prevents insomnia, helps you sleep longer and improves overall sleep quality.
You may be aware that feeling hot makes it harder to fall asleep. But why is that?
It has to do with how your body prepares itself for bedtime.
Your sleep-wake cycle is one of the most important parts of the circadian rhythm.
When your eyes detect the fading light of the day, your brain's master clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, triggers a series of biological processes that gradually make you sleepy.
One of these is a slight lowering of core body temperature, which helps you feel drowsy.
If your core body temperature is too high, it will keep your body alert for much longer.
Sleeping too warm can also reduce how much time you spend in critical sleep stages like REM, causing you to wake up feeling poorly rested.
The general discomfort from feeling too hot can also make it harder to sleep. In some cases, sweating may wake you.
Ten Ways To Sleep Cooler
1. Adjust The Thermostat
Lowering your thermostat at bedtime will help you sleep faster and better. That’s because a cooler room makes it easier for the body to reduce core body temperature, which in turn triggers sleepiness.
The ideal temperature setting is between 65 and 72 degrees. You’ll need to play around with the thermostat to find the setting that’s most comfortable for you.
Make sure you are not too cool, as that can also keep you from sleeping.
A programmable or smart thermostat makes these adjustments easy. You can set the thermostat to automatically drop to a set temperature during bedtime.
If you have a smart thermostat, it’ll learn your preferred sleep temperature and automatically adjust to it when you go to sleep. You can also have your smart home assistant adjust the thermostat as part of a smart routine.
Admittedly, cooling just your bedroom at night is inefficient when using central AC. If you get a big hit on your power bill, consider replacing central AC with a mini split system.
A large mini split system for your entire home will be expensive to buy and install, but it’s far more efficient and costs less to run.
2. Get a Portable or Window AC
If a mini split is out of your budget, another alternative that’s more efficient than central AC is a portable or window AC.
Portable and window air conditioners cool one room only, making them efficient.
A window AC sits on the window. It draws air from outside, cools it, and blows cool air into the room. It’s pricier than a portable AC, but it’s quieter, takes up no living space, and it cools more efficiently.
A portable AC sits on the floor and has a hose that goes out of the window to exhaust hot air outside.
Portable ACs are cheaper and you can move them from room to room.
On the downside, they are noisier and not as efficient as a window AC.
The biggest advantage of both portable and window air conditioners is that you do not need to cool down your entire home just to keep your bedroom comfortable. This is a big money saver.
When using a window or portable AC, set the temperature somewhere between 65 and 72 degrees. Try different settings until you find the one where you are neither too warm nor chilly.
You can then set the AC to automatically adjust to that temperature at bedtime (if the unit has a programmable schedule).
Some room ACs have a dedicated sleep mode setting. In this mode, the AC will operate the fan at a low speed to keep noise down. It’ll also gradually increase temperature as the night progresses to keep you comfortable.
Tip: If a portable AC is too expensive, consider getting a swamp cooler, also called an evaporative cooler. It uses water to cool the room. A swamp cooler is cheaper, and uses less energy. On the downside, it only works in hot and dry areas.
3. Use a Fan
A fan is an even cheaper alternative to a portable or window AC. It doesn't have the same cooling performance, since it is just moving air around instead of cooling it, but it can be enough in certain conditions.
A fan is ideal for cooling if your bedroom doesn't get overly hot. If it gets quite warm at night, then a fan won’t help. It’ll only be moving hot air around.
But if it only gets moderately warm, moving the air around with a fan can bring down room temperature and help you sleep cooler.
By forcing air to circulate, a fan prevents hot air from stagnating around the bed. The air blowing over you also dries up any sweat on your skin, providing a cooling effect.
You can use a floor, desk, or ceiling fan.
Here are some additional tips for cooling your bedroom with a fan.
Note that a fan works best if you have breathable bedding. Otherwise, it will not circulate hot air trapped under the sheets.
4. Keep The Sun Out During The Day
During summer, your bedroom will heat up during the day and some of that heat stays behind late into the night.
To avoid this, keep windows and blinds closed during the day in sun-facing bedrooms. This will keep the bedroom cool when it’s hot outside.
During the evening, when it gets cooler outside, open the windows to let in cool air and freshen up the bedroom.
5. Use Breathable Bedding
If you are feeling hot and stuffy in bed, one of the likely reasons is that your sheets and comforter are not breathable.
Heat from your body is trapped in the bed, leaving you hot and sweaty.
During summer, switch to a summer comforter or duvet. These tend to have less filling and contain breathable materials like cotton, down, and bamboo rayon.
Also consider switching to cooler sheets. Go for natural fabrics like cotton and bamboo.
The type of weave a sheet uses also matters. For example, cotton percale sheets are cooler than those with a sateen weave.
You’ll also want to avoid sheets with excessively high thread counts. A lower thread count of 200-300 keeps the sheets soft and smooth without affecting breathability.
Sheets with a high thread count (400 and above), will feel more luxurious but they retain more heat.
Using breathable bedding prevents hot air from getting trapped in the bed. It also improves the cooling performance of a fan or AC. You may find that you don't have to lower the thermostat as much to sleep cool.
6. Get a Cool Mattress
Another common cause of sleeping hot is the mattress.
This typically happens with foam mattresses. Polyurethane foam, including memory foam, absorbs and retains heat from your body.
This heat is what makes memory foam soft and pressure-relieving. But it also makes you hot and uncomfortable.
If you think your mattress is making you sleep hot, consider upgrading to a cooler mattress. The good news is that you don't have to spend a lot of money to get a cool mattress.
Mattresses these days have lots of cooling technologies available even in cheaper brands. In fact, you don't have to give up sleeping on memory foam.
Modern memory foam mattresses are designed to sleep cooler. They have open cells that improve mattress ventilation, and most contain cooling gel.
Some manufacturers also infuse their foam mattresses with copper or graphite to improve heat conductivity away from your body.
But if you want a guaranteed cool night’s sleep, get a latex or hybrid mattress.
Latex mattresses are the best for hot sleepers. Natural latex doesn't retain heat and has excellent breathability.
Just make sure you get a natural latex mattress. Synthetic latex doesn't have the same cooling performance.
The main downside of natural latex mattresses is the price. If you are on a budget get a cheaper hybrid latex mattress that combines a top layer of latex with other layers of foam or pocket coils.
Hybrid mattresses typically consist of a foam or latex comfort layer and a core or base of coils.
The coils are the reason hybrid mattresses sleep much cooler than all-foam mattresses. Air flows easily through the coils, which prevents heat from building up inside the mattress.
Hybrid mattresses tend to be slightly more expensive than foam mattresses, but they are usually much cheaper than a natural or organic latex mattress.
7. Get a Cooling Mattress Pad or Topper
If you cannot afford or don't want to get a new mattress right now, a cooling mattress pad or topper can also help you sleep cooler.
The names mattress pads and toppers are sometimes used interchangeably. But often, a topper is thicker (1-5 inches) and typically made from foam.
A mattress pad is thinner and usually consists of a cover with filling inside. The filling is usually microfiber but can also be wool, down, or bamboo rayon.
Not all mattress pads and toppers are meant for cooling. In fact, most are designed primarily to make the mattress more comfortable.
So when you are buying a cooling pad or topper, make sure it’s meant to improve cooling.
Look for those made with materials such as down, wool, cotton, bamboo rayon, gel memory foam, and latex.
But don’t just focus on cooling. Check how the topper will change the feel and comfort of your mattress.
If you don't want to change how your mattress feels, get a thin cooling mattress pad. If you want to make your mattress significantly softer (for better pressure point relief) or firmer (for better support), get a 2-4 inch mattress topper.
If you only want to make your mattress a bit softer and easier on your joints, get a plush mattress pad filled with down or a down alternative.
8. Get A Cooling Pillow
Don't forget your pillow. It can also make you hot, and keep you from sleeping well.
Similar to mattresses, foam pillows are notorious for getting hot and stuffy. Turning the pillow over to the cooler side in the middle of the night can help, but there are better pillows that stay cool all night long.
Here are the best types of cooling pillows.
As you change your pillow, also get cool pillow cases made from breathable materials like cotton.
9. Get a Bed Cooling System
For extra-hot sleepers, people with severe night sweats, and women experiencing hot flashes, changing the sheets or getting a mattress topper may not be enough.
For such situations, we recommend a bed cooling system.
It's like a mini AC system for just your bed. Because you are cooling only your bed and not the whole room, bed cooling systems are more effective as well as more efficient compared to a portable or central AC.
There are three types of bed cooling systems: air cooling systems, water cooling systems, and bed fans.
Air Cooling Systems
The most popular air cooling system for beds is BedJet.
It consists of a main unit that sits on the floor. A hose leading from the unit delivered cool or warm air directly under the sheets.
The main unit contains a fan for cooling air, and a heating element to warm air.
You can adjust bed temperature using a remote control.
BedJet delivers instant cooling, making it great for hot flashes. It’s also great for night sweats. The cool air quickly dries sweat on your skin.
BedJet is available in two options for one person or a couple. The couple option allows two people to control temperature on their side of the bed.
Water Cooling Systems
Instead of air, these systems use water to cool or warm your bed. While they don't provide instant cooling like BedJet (it takes a few minutes to achieve the set temperature), they can make the bed much cooler.
That’s because water can absorb more heat than air.
Water cooling systems consist of the main unit with a fan, pump and a water reservoir, and a mattress pad containing thin tubes.
A hose carries cooled water from the main unit, to the mattress pad. As water flows through the tubes in the pad, it cools you and the bed.
The main unit can also warm the water if you are feeling cold.
Similar to BedJet, water cooling systems are also available in one or two-person configurations.
If you are on a budget, we recommend a bed fan. Bed fans don't cool or warm the air, they only circulate it.
But unlike regular fans, bed fans are designed to blow air directly under the sheets. This targets the stagnant hot air in the bed and it’s more effective at drying away sweat.
As long as your bedroom is not too hot, bed fans are surprisingly effective at cooling. In some cases, they can make the bed too cold.
10. Cool Your Body Before Bed
Our last tip for sleeping cool doesn't require you to buy anything. You only need to adjust your lifestyle and bedtime routine.
The goal is to cool your body just before you get into bed. The drop in core body temperature will help you feel sleepy.
Here are some things you can do (or avoid) to cool down in readiness for sleep.
If you feel hot, no matter what you do, we recommend seeing your doctor. There could be an underlying medical condition (such as thyroid issues) affecting your body’s thermoregulation.
In some cases, medication can also make you hot.
Verdict: What’s The Best Way To Sleep Cool?
As a degreed engineer, I love new technology as much as you do (perhaps more). I also understand how to sort the best products from the rest. My team and I spend dozens of hours each week reviewing the best & latest products for your bedroom. Many are tested in-house, and others we break down based on our technical understanding. Whether you need a bed-cooling system, an adjustable bed, or a new CPAP machine – we've got you covered.