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10 things you can try when it’s too hot to sleep

A white woman rests on her floor while it is too hot to sleep
Fitness Editor
Julia is a qualified fitness trainer. She writes our articles about nutrition and fitness. She also makes free workout plans for our site.

Summer is the best! That is, until you realize that all the heat doesn’t make it easy to fall asleep. We’ve compiled 10 tips to help you get a good night of sleep, even when it’s 40 degrees. Keep reading to find out how to stay fresh and rested even when it seems like it’s just too hot to sleep. 

Quick note: We’ve written this article using temperatures in Celsius!

As wonderful as summer is, hot nights can be rather unpleasant – especially when you factor in the mosquitoes and the heat that sometimes makes it impossible to sleep. Even if you do manage to sleep at some point, there’s still a big difference between getting some shut-eye and really feeling rested.

In order to wake up feeling truly refreshed, your body needs to go through REM (rapid eye movement) cycles and the deep phases of sleep they’re linked to. Sleep scientists and general doctors recommend trying to get at least four 90-minute sleep cycles, which equals a total of about 6.5 hours of sleep.

10 Tips to Sleeping Better in Hot Weather

#1 Find your special summer evening routine

Developing an evening routine or ritual is a great way to ease your body and mind into the right place for sleep. It’s even more important to maintain this routine during the summer months because the daylight lasts longer and our bodies produce less melatonin and makes us less tired as a result.

But having a ritual can make it easier to prepare yourself for bed even if you’re not as tired as usual. Try drinking a warm cup of tea — like the Evening Relax from our All Day-Vitality Tea Set, which is a calming duo of lavender and lemon balm that will put you at ease and help you forget about the stresses of the day.

A canister of Evening Relax tea sits next to a glass mug and a honey bowl with a dipper. A warm tea can help when it's too hot to sleep
Discover our Tea Set

Though an iced tea might seem like the perfect beverage for a hot summer evening, it might actually be warming you up more than you realize. That’s because drinking cold beverages causes your body to generate more heat to restore your core temperature to normal. Even though it might seem counterintuitive, try to stick with warm or lukewarm beverages when the temps are high.

Speaking of drinking, did you know that you also sweat at night? Luckily, drinking enough fluids during the day is enough to keep you well hydrated at night. Not sure how to get enough water? We’ve got an article with ideas to help you drink more water!

#2 Go to bed at the same time every day

Having a regular bedtime will also make it easier to sleep no matter the circumstances. That’s because our bodies like routine, and they will go into sleep mode at the time you normally go to bed.

#3 Avoid alcohol and meat before bed

As tempting as it might be to barbecue during summer, eating heavy foods less than three hours before bedtime will make it harder to sleep. Your body heats up as it digests, and the harder something is to digest, the hotter you’ll get during the process. Try to stick to eating light foods late in the evening. Chicken or turkey is a great option because it contains a surplus of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the body produce the sleep hormone melatonin.

Alcohol is another thing to avoid before bed because it will make you restless and dehydrated. And we’re all familiar with the alcohol sweats. During summer, try to keep your drinking to the daytime.

#4 Avoid working out at night

Working out increases the level of cortisol in the blood which can make it harder to fall asleep. Plus, you might still be feeling the heat from your sweat sesh hours after wrapping up. If you’re worried about exercise getting in the way of your sleep, stick to morning workouts during the summer.

#5 Cool down with warm water

Just like drinking a cold beverage can warm you up, so can taking a cold shower. At night, your core body temperature drops half a degree lower than during the day on average. This “internal air conditioner” helps you sleep in normal circumstances, but doesn’t function as well in hot weather. A lukewarm shower simulates this effect.

#6 Avoid keeping sources of heat in the bedroom

Cell phones, smartphones, and other electronic devices create a small amount of warmth that probably won’t bother you during the winter, but just might during the summer. Try to keep these objects far from your bed on toasty evenings.

#7 Air out your home at the right moments

Though it’s best to keep the windows closed during the day, the morning, evening, and night are the best moments to freshen up your space. Do you get a lot of sunlight? Then it’s also important to remember to close your curtains or shutters to keep things cool inside.

Hanging a damp sheet in front of one or all of your windows will also reduce light, cool the air in the room, and maintain a healthy humidity level of 40-60%. Only open the window to let a breeze in once the temperature outside is lower than the temperature in the room.

#8 Make your bedding lighter

A duvet or comforter made from natural fibers absorbs perspiration better than other materials. In addition to being durable, natural linen is beloved for the cooling effect it has. Keep things even cooler by storing your sheets in the refrigerator when you’re not sleeping on them. You’ll be amazed at how well this trick works when it’s sweltering inside and outside.

Along with your bed sheets and blankets, wearing pajamas made from natural, environmentally-friendly fabrics will also help you stay cool on hot nights. Lightweight clothing made with these kinds of materials will absorb sweat throughout the night and keep you nice and dry.

#9 Swap the hot water bottle for a cold one

In winter, many love to place a hot water bottle at the bottom of their mattress to keep their feet cold. On hot days, do the opposite! Fill an insulated bottle with water and place it in the fridge until it’s as cold as possible. Then, place it next to whichever part of your body gets the hottest while you sleep.

#10 Make a bed on the floor or change rooms

If all these tricks aren’t, well, doing the trick, then it might be time to take more drastic measures. Like putting your mattress directly on the floor. Because heat rises, staying closer to the ground is a great way to keep your body temperature down.

Moving to a cooler room in your home for the night is another good option. So is sleeping outdoors if you have all the right equipment to keep mosquitoes and other bugs at bay.

Why does heat prevent good sleep?

The ideal sleeping temperature is about 18 degrees. Any hotter and it will be harder for your body to realize that it’s time to go to bed. The usual indications (like your core temperature getting naturally colder) aren’t there to remind it when to fall asleep.

Too hot to sleep: Our conclusion

  • There is no miracle cure for sleeping in hot weather. Instead, a combination of small tips are what will help you get a restful night’s sleep despite the heat.
  • Make sure you drink enough fluids during the day so that you don’t become dehydrated while sleeping.
  • Heavy dinners and alcohol should be avoided if you want to sleep well in the heat.
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