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Beat the brutal summer heat: 13 tips to stay cool at night

Record temperatures and heat waves are on the horizon in the United States this summer, which means it’s time to prepare for brutal heat and humidity. One of the most important places to prepare is your bedroom. Apart from the obvious discomfort of night sweats and damp sheets, staying cool is really crucial for a good night’s sleep.

Your body temperature fluctuates naturally when you sleep – this is called thermoregulation. Although the changes are not drastic (only about two degrees), it is essential for falling asleep. When you fall asleep, your body temperature drops. If it rises before it should, you will wake up.

This is bad news during the heat of summer. The good news is there are ways to sleep cool this summer without climbing energy bill. So instead of tossing and turning all night (and repeatedly washing your sheets), try these 13 tips and recommendations for getting rid of night sweats and sleeping through the night.

1. Talk to your doctor about night sweats

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First: rule out an underlying health problem. Night sweats can occur in response to many medical conditions, including anxiety disorders, neuropathy, hyperthyroidism, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and tuberculosis, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Certain medications, such as those for diabetes and depression, can also cause night sweats. If you wake up hot and sweaty every night, it’s worth seeing your doctor, regardless of the weather.

2. Add a window unit or box fan

It probably sounds obvious – but it works. If you don’t have central air conditioning in your home, consider buying a window unit to keep you cool at night. It costs much less than installing a central air conditioning unit and it saves on energy costs because you only cool one room. Alternatively, a box fan in the window can expel warm air and circulate cooler air.

3. Try a floor fan or a mini bedside table fan

No space for a window unit or box fan? Many companies these days make incredibly powerful floor fans and mini fans. The Honeywell QuietSet Whole Room Tower Fan served me well, as did the Honeywell Dreamweaver Sleep Fanwhich doubles as a white noise machine.

A black Honeywell fan on a bedside table.

This little Honeywell fan is surprisingly powerful.

Honeywell

4. Use fans to create a cross breeze

Speaking of fans, grab two while you’re at the store. Placing two floor fans facing each other on opposite sides of your room creates a cross breeze, keeping you cool throughout the night.

5. Take a hot bath a few hours before bed

Your body temperature fluctuates in a cycle. Each evening, as the sun begins to set and your eyes perceive darkness, your body begins to produce melatonin and triggers your brain to prepare for sleep. At the same time, your core body temperature begins to drop and continues to drop throughout your first two stages of sleep.

Taking a hot bath 1 to 2 hours before going to bed can simulate this natural process and promote restful sleep. When you sleep, your body temperature hovers around 2 degrees lower than its daytime temperature before gradually rising to normal levels shortly before you wake up.

Bubble bath with the person's feet propped up on the edge

It may seem the opposite of what you want to do, but it could work.

Jena Ardell/Moment/Getty Images

6. Try natural fiber bedding

Synthetic sheets tend to cost less than natural sheets, but investing in natural cotton, linen, silk, or bamboo sheets could be your ticket to staying cool while you sleep. These fabrics promote breathability, and as a bonus, they do not put off volatile organic compounds (VOC) as do many synthetic fabrics (we could all use less VOCs in our homes).

7. Sleep naked or semi-naked

Just ditching your pajamas can help keep you cool while you sleep. It works for some people but not for others, however. Many people prefer to wear pajamas even if they sweat at night, as some fabrics wick moisture away from your skin.

8. Choose natural fibers and loose fits for pajamas

If you don’t feel comfortable sleeping naked, be smart about your pajamas. Just as bedding made from natural fibers can help keep you cool, so can clothing. Loose-fitting cotton, silk, or bamboo-based pajamas offer more breathability than synthetic fiber pajamas.

A person wearing gray Cozy Earth pajamas.

Pajamas made from natural fibers, like this bamboo fabric set from Cozy Earth, could help keep you cool at night.

cozy earth

9. Use blackout or thermal curtains during the day

It’s always nice to let sunlight into your home during the day, especially in the winter when the days are short and many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder. However, keep the curtains – especially Blackout or thermal curtains – drawn in your bedroom during the day can keep your bedroom cooler so it’s ready for sleep at night.

10. Do not operate electronic devices in your bedroom

Electronic devices such as televisions, radios and video game consoles emit heat when they operate. Avoid using electronic devices in your bedroom at night if you really have trouble staying cool while you sleep.

Read more: Dim or turn off the bright LED lights of your devices once and for all

11. Freeze your pillowcases and sheets

It sounds weird, but it really works – I can attest to that as someone who’s lived in California through several heat waves without AC power. It won’t keep you cool all night, but it will keep you cool for 30 minutes to an hour, giving you time to sink into a deep sleep.

Simply place your pillowcases and sheets in your freezer for a few hours before bed. Put them back on your bed and snuggle up in your own personal igloo.

Two white pillows on a white duvet.

Put your pillowcase in the freezer for a few hours for bedtime bliss.

Abby Kamagate/EyeEm/Getty Images

12. Lower your thermostat

It probably seems obvious, but a lot of people are hesitant to turn the thermostat above a certain temperature. Turning your home into an arctic tundra with air conditioning definitely increases your electric bill, after all. But if you feel like you’ve tried everything and still wake up sweaty, you may just need to lower your nighttime temperature a few notches.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, most experts agree that 65 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal sleeping temperature because it helps your body maintain its natural core temperature at night. However, the US Department of Energy suggests that the ideal temperature for your thermostat this summer is 82 F while sleeping and 85 F outside the house to ensure maximum energy savings. So be prepared to spend a little more this summer if you change the thermostat every night.

13. Turn to technology

OK, what if none of the solutions above worked for you in the past? There are many products specifically designed to help people avoid the dreaded night sweats. The products below all use some sort of cooling technology that is supposed to promote uninterrupted rest for warm sleepers.

This mattress topper uses Reactex technology, which draws heat away from your body and channels it through memory foam cubes and fiberfill.

The ChiliBlanket features hydroponic cooling. The control unit cools the water and sends it through the channels of the weighted blanket, so you can get all the anti-anxiety comfort of a weighted blanket without feeling like you’re drowning in sweat .

The purple products feature a gel grid design that keeps air moving through internal channels, preventing hot air from pooling under your body.

The BedJet system works with existing bedding – simply place the fan arm under your fitted sheet for near instant cooling.

Read our preview of BedJet v2.

Sleep well all night

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.