How to sleep in the heat: effective tips to try tonight

Too hot to sleep? Learn how to sleep in the heat with our simple top tips

Sweaty woman sat up in bed struggling to sleep in the heat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you live in tropical climes or you're living through a heatwave, trying to sleep in the heat can feel like a battle that you're destined to lose.

Some night's it simply feels too hot to sleep, which often brings with it feelings of frustration that further impact our ability to drop off (let's not even mention the pesky bugs that sleeping with the window open brings). The result is we wake feeling tired, irritable and unable to perform at our best.

The good news is that there are ways to get a good night's sleep in the heat. So, if you're struggling to sleep thanks to soaring temperatures, take a look at our list of easy and effective tricks to try tonight...

Drink ice-cold milk before bed

A glass of milk before bed is just the tonic for sleeping in the heat. A study published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition discovered that a protein found naturally in milk called a-lactalbumin improves both the quality of your slumber and your alertness the following day. Make it ice-cold and you'll also help regulate your body temperature too.

If you don't like milk (or don't eat dairy), you could also try sour cherry juice (also know as tart or Montmorency cherry juice). A study carried out by researchers at Northumbria University found that it helps you sleep an average of 25 minutes extra a night by increasing levels of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.

Get your bed set-up right

If you live in an area that's prone to hot weather (or indeed if you're a naturally hot sleeper), then look for specific cooling technology when it comes to building your bed. For example, many of the best mattress toppers and mattresses are designed to cope with changing heat conditions - keeping you cool when it's hot, and vice versa. 

As well as what you sleep on, you should also consider what you sleep under. On warmer nights, opt for a light top sheet that will absorb perspiration and allow air to circulate more easily. Alternatively, if you sleep with a duvet (hello, our European readers!), choose one with a lower tog rating.

Create your own air-con

If your bedroom is lacking in the AC department, here's a handy DIY fix to try. Physiologist and Silentnight’s sleep expert Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan advises placing ice cubes in a bowl and turning on a fan next to it. As the ice melts, you’ll get a cool breeze. Genius!

Apply cool creams

Keep after sun lotion or body moisturizer in the fridge so that it’s cool and soothing when you apply it before bed.

Take a tepid (not cold!) shower

A cold shower or bath before bed will actually have the effect of raising your body temperature rather than lowering it, so to stay cool under the covers, make sure the water is tepid. If you don’t have time for a full shower or bath, try running just your feet and wrists under tepid water before going to bed, advises Dr. Ramlakhan.

Exercise earlier

Don’t do strenuous exercise within four hours of sleep as your body temperature will be too high to switch off, advises Sammy Margo, author of The Good Sleep Guide. Exercising earlier in the day, however, will help you get a good night’s sleep.

Try a damp sheet

If you’re really struggling, soak a sheet or towel in water then put it in the washing machine on the spin cycle to stop it dripping. Covering yourself with the damp cloth will keep you cool via the magic of latent heat – the same process sweating uses to cool your body. You’ll need some air circulation in the bedroom for this to work – an open window is fine. Alternatively, try placing your sheet in the freezer for a couple of hours before bedtime.

Mop your brow

For a less extreme version of the advice above, Dr. Ramlakhan advises keeping a cool flannel next to your bed, along with a plant mist sprayer filled with water and a few ice cubes. Popping a flannel in the fridge for an hour before bedtime will produce a lovely cooling cloth to put on your forehead as you drift off. And if you need further cooling during the night, reach for the mist sprayer.

Reach for the bottle

If you use a hot water bottle in the colder winter months, turn it into a cold water bottle for hotter nights! Simply fill with cold water, place in the freezer and take it to bed with you.

Woman wearing pink pajamas and sleeping with a cold water bottle to help sleep in the heat

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Don't sleep naked

As tempting as it is to whip everything off when the mercury rises – don’t! Cotton pajamas let your skin breathe and make sure any sweat is soaked up rather than staying clung to your skin.

Switch off plug sockets

It may seem like a long shot, but turning off all the plug sockets can really help take the temperature down – and saves some energy in the process! Electrical sockets release a surprising amount of heat, and when it's super hot every little improvement helps.

Soak your socks

Sleep in cool, damp socks or a T-shirt. The heat that is produced by your body will cause the water in the clothes to evaporate, producing a cooling effect on your skin and lowering your temperature

Have sex

If your partner’s not too hot to handle, research has shown the chemical oxytocin released by an orgasm ensures a better night’s sleep. Orgasms also stimulate the release of vasopressin, which is linked to cerebral tiredness and reduced stress, plus the endorphins produced by having sex can have a sedative effect.

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