When You Can't Sleep Because It's Too Hot

When it's too hot to sleep, you'll do anything to cool down — but we can't endorse this solution. Diego Cervo/Shutterstock

You know the miserable feeling. You plop into your bed, ready for some shuteye, but it's too ridiculously hot to sleep. Even if you have air conditioning, hot, humid nights can make it hard for your body to relax and fall asleep.

Research has shown that the ideal temperature for sleep for most people is between 60 and 67 degrees F (16 to 19 degrees C) with about 50 percent humidity. When numbers climb outside these preferences, it takes longer to fall asleep and sleep quality suffers.

When the weather is keeping you up all night, here are 11 things you can do to keep the heat from disrupting your slumber.

Cool your room. If you have A/C, crank it down to a more comfortable temperature. If you don't have air conditioning, then the key is cross ventilation, Lauren E. Hale, Ph.D.,editor in chief of the journal Sleep Health, tells Consumer Reports. Open the windows and use a fan to keep the air moving. If you have only one window, position the fan there so it can circulate cooler nighttime air.

Try new pajamas. Just like you have workout clothes that wick away sweat, there are high-tech pjs that do the same thing. Or choose cotton, which is cooler than other fabrics.

woman closing curtains in bedroom
Keep the curtains and blinds closed during the day to keep your room cooler at night. lzf/Shutterstock

Shut out the sun. It's tempting to let in the sun, but keep your curtains, shades and blinds shuttered during the day. Blocking out the sun means a cooler room all day and night, so you're off to a better start when it's time to go to sleep.

Lose the foam. You may love your foam pillow or mattress topper, but give it a break until temperatures drop. Foam absorbs heat, making your bed feel even hotter, Michael Decker, Ph.D., a member of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, tells Real Simple.

Sleep downstairs. If you have two floors and your bedroom is upstairs, move downstairs temporarily. Heat rises, so a lower floor will be cooler. But if your only option downstairs is the couch or the floor, you have to figure out if the swap of comfort for a little coolness is worth it.

unmade bed
Cotton sheets are cooler and breathe better than any other fabric. GoodMood Photo/Shutterstock

Change your sheets. The coolest sheets are lightweight cotton, says the National Sleep Foundation. They breathe better than silk, polyester or satin. Save those for cooler nights.

Sleep with ice. Bring ice packs or cold compresses to bed and put them on your pulse points (wrists, elbows, neck, ankles, behind your knees). There are also cooling blankets you can try.

Freeze your sheets. Get your sheets frosty the low-tech way by putting them in a plastic bag and sticking them in the freezer.

feet sticking out from covers
We lose body heat from places like our feet and our scalp. Golubovy/Shutterstock

Stick your feet out. Poke your feet out of the covers. We lose heat through our skin, scalp and soles of our feet, so Decker says the simple act of sticking your feet out from under the covers will help keep heat from being trapped.

Take a shower. Some people find that taking a cool shower or bath before bed can help lower body temperature. Other people get more relief with warmer water. But just watch that the water isn't too hot, because that adds more humidity.

Sleep by yourself. If you sleep with a partner, you may want to reconsider that arrangement — at least when it's really hot. That's double the body heat and not as much room to toss and turn.