Can you get sick from sleeping in a hot room? Maybe not directly, but lack of sleep, even for just a few nights, can make you moody and irritable. It can affect your mental health, relationships and working life. If it is too hot to sleep because of unhealthy room temperatures, your mind will soon turn to ways of keeping your house cool in extreme heat. Few of us in the UK have household air conditioning to help, so it can be difficult for us to sleep during summer nights. That’s why we have written this guide on how to sleep in the heat. If you are wondering how to cool down a room, you’ve come to the right place.
How to Improve Your Sleep Environment
Written by experts, our short guide includes top tips that will keep your bedroom comfortable and your body’s core temperature cool. They vary from choosing what to wear in bed wisely to shading your room and using fans properly. We’ll also give you a list of food, drinks and activities to avoid if you want to go straight to the Land of Nod. As a result, you should have a peaceful, uninterrupted night’s sleep whatever the weather.
There are lots of ways to make your bedroom, and bed, more comfortable in hot weather. One of the best ways to keep cool in bed is to choose the right materials for your bedding and pyjamas.
Thin cotton will let your skin breathe and deal with sweat effectively. It’s typically very comfortable too. You could invest in some cooling gel pads for your pillows and cooling mattress toppers for under the sheets. Even spraying a little water on them, and your curtains will help prevent your room’s ambient temperature from climbing too high.
Closing curtains during the day, to keep the sun from warming the air, is a good move. Throwing the windows open in the evening, if it’s safe and you can cope with the noise, will help you in keeping cool at night. Using multiple fans to vary the airflow around the space is good too.
Finally, if it is still too hot, try temporarily moving elsewhere in the house. Heat rises, so moving downstairs might prove to be a good option too. It might be worth parting, briefly, from your partner. If you’re wondering how to cool your body down at night, sleeping solo might be the answer.
What Stops Us Sleeping In Hot Weather
You can also help by having a bedtime routine that avoids some of the sleep traps and pitfalls we all fall into sometimes. These include bad habits around activities, food, drink and technology. The effects they have on our sleep patterns are heightened in hot weather.
Activities to Avoid
To sleep well, you need to feel calm. In the run-up to going to bed, avoid anything frenetic or remotely stressful, such as exercise or watching television. Overeating is not good for inducing sleep either. Alcohol stops your body from regulating its temperature too, so avoiding that glass of wine or beer before bed is probably sensible. Smoking and nicotine products will also keep you awake.
The blue light that comes from smartphones and tablets has been linked with trouble sleeping. Avoid using those devices just before you go to bed. Try not to use them in bed as your mind will find it hard to switch off.
Food & Drink to Avoid
We’ve discussed the problems with alcohol. Caffeine is a no-no too. Cheese, despite its reputation for causing strange dreams, actually acts as a stimulant too. Other high-fat foods and ultra-processed meals, like fast food, ice cream, sweets and crisps have been proven to affect sleep patterns. Spicy foods can increase your body temperature, as well as cause digestion problems such as acid reflux and heartburn. These could prevent you from sleeping.
The key to successful sleep is to have a healthy well-balanced meal at least a few hours before bedtime. Sugar and caffeine-free herbal teas and similar drinks can hydrate your body and relax you.
Tips for Sleeping During a Heatwave
We have covered keeping the bedroom cool in summer. We have also discussed some bad habits to avoid just before bed around food, drink and technology. Here are six other quick tips for sleeping well during hot weather.
Freeze your pillow
Put it in a plastic bag first, but 10-15 minutes of freezer time before bed will mean it is cool and fresh for your sleepy head.
Use your body’s natural cooling points
Place cooling gels or ice packs on the ‘cooling points’ of your body. These include the backs of your knees, ankles, wrists, neck, groin and elbows.
Spritz and spray
Keep a spray bottle or similar full of cold water by the bed. Instant cooling!
Shower or bathe at room temperature
Forgo your normal routine and wash the day away in tepid water. Hot water will raise your core temperature and make it harder for you to sleep.
Don’t overdo the water
Limit bedtime drinking to half a pint of water. This will keep you hydrated but avoid waking for trips to the loo.
Turn off technology
Turn off and unplug all electrical devices in the bedroom. Not only are they distracting, but they emit more heat than you’d imagine.
The hot weather should be something to enjoy but if your summer spirit is ruined by over-tired crankiness, we trust some of these tips will prove useful. See what works for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What temperature is the best to sleep in?
Based on an average body type, most doctors recommend keeping bedrooms between 15.6 and 19.4 degrees Celsius. (60-67 degrees Fahrenheit).
Does heat affect sleep quality?
Yes. Our bodies need to regulate their core temperatures. We do this at night by waking, tossing, turning, sweating and feeling thirsty. Ignoring the heat won’t get you anywhere.
How do you sleep in a heatwave?
With a bit of care and preparation, you can sleep well in hot weather. Make your bedroom cool and comfortable. Use your body’s natural cooling points and avoid mistakes like the wrong food or activities just before lights out.
How do you keep cool in bed during a heatwave?
Choosing light natural cotton bedding and pyjamas is probably the best place to start. You can then use cooling gels, mattress toppers and even your freezer to keep the temperature at an acceptable level.
What position should I sleep in when it is hot?
If you normally sleep on your back or front, try sleeping on your side when it’s hot. In this way, you’ll expose a more significant portion of your body to the air. This lets the heat from your body escape and regulates your temperature more effectively.
How do I cool myself down at night?
Things to try include selecting cooling cotton bedding and pyjamas, keeping a cold water spray handy, keeping a window open and using fans to create a breeze, having a tepid shower or bath at night, avoiding alcohol, coffee and eating just before bed and leaving electric devices switched off. Good luck!
You can get more help on sleeping from the Your Healthy Hub guides. If your sleep problem persists over time, do consider getting professional medical advice. Over-tiredness can make life difficult and seriously damage your health and wellbeing.