How to Sleep Better in the Summer: 13 Tips to Stay Cool

By Alesandra Woolley

Aug 15th, 2022

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Many songwriters have celebrated summer as the season that changed their lives, but has anybody ever penned a sentimental lyric about struggling to sleep your way through the hottest nights of the year?

Lowering the temperature in your bedroom seems like the obvious answer to summertime night sweats. So what’s the best temperature for sleeping in summer? The National Sleep Foundation recommends keeping the temperature between 60 and 67 degrees year-round, which—unless you spend your summers in the Antarctic—is prohibitively brisk.

No disrespect to the experts, but one look at your monthly power bill after cranking the AC up to 11 is enough to cause sleepless nights on its own.

Try These Hot Sleeper Solutions

So if you’re finding it too hot to sleep and too expensive to turn your bedroom into an igloo, where does that leave you? With a tip of the hat to the immortal Bananarama, here’s a list of tips that can help you turn a cruel summer into a cool summer.

Chill Out Your Sleep Space

  • Adding blackout curtains to your bedroom can be a big part of creating a sleep-friendly environment. The most important benefit in the summertime is that the curtains block the sun’s hot rays. They also absorb noise and keep the early sunrise out of your eyes.
  • It’s not just the heat; it’s also the humidity. A dehumidifier—available at your local hardware store or favorite online retailer—can help keep indoor humidity between 30% and 50% as recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency. Naturally, the best humidity for sleeping in the summer is probably as close to 30% as possible.
  • Place a small fan on your nightstand and aim it so that gently circulating air skims the top of your body. A fan also provides a wall of soothing white noise to lull you to sleep.

Close up of pretty young woman sleeping with her head on the pillow

Bed, Body, and Beyond

  • Cooling mattresses that use gel-infused memory foam, moisture-wicking covers, and other scientifically tested features can help diffuse body heat. Some brands claim their mattresses can make you feel anywhere from 3 to 8 degrees cooler.
  • Mattresses aren’t the only sleep products that aim to lower the temperature. A number of bedding accessories including sheets, toppers, pads, and pillows are designed with cooling properties.
  • Eat for the heat. There’s a proven connection between nutrition and sleep, and a few diet changes in the summer may help you cool down. Keep your evening meals small so that your body devotes less metabolic energy to digestion. Take a break from the protein platters in favor of fruits and vegetables and other easily metabolized foods.
  • Hydrate (with water, not sangria). Drinking a healthy amount of water reduces the risk of everyone’s least favorite sleep disruptor, the midnight leg cramp. And while those chilled summer cocktails can be refreshing in the moment, drinking alcohol before you go to bed can cause a variety of sleep problems including (get ready for some fun irony) night sweats.
  • If you have pets, you might want to distract them with a favorite toy before reading this one. Ready? Sharing a bed with those cuddly rascals is the greatest, but their little bodies generate body heat too. Gently negotiate a separate bed situation during heat waves—or look into a specially designed pet bed for your best boy or girl.

Shot of a woman drinking a glass of water at home

Old-School Cool

  • Nighttime showers have a few sleep benefits, one being sleeping with wet hair. If you don’t mind a wet bedhead look, water evaporating from drying hair keeps your head, and in turn your body, cooler for a while.
  • A buckwheat pillow might sound like the hot new bourbon cocktail, but it’s an actual sleep product. Buckwheat pillows have been around for centuries. They’re known to sleep cool, since the husks inside the pillowcase allow air to circulate.
  • One of the great debates in the insomnia world is whether to sleep naked or not to sleep naked. The full Monty, in the buff, going commando … whatever you call it, less clothing means more cooling. If modesty prevents you from going au naturel, try a pair of pajamas made of the right fabric for coolness, like cotton or bamboo.
  • A quick, at-home remedy for keeping your chill is a cooling mixture of aloe, witch hazel, and peppermint oil. Keep it in a spray bottle by your bed and spritz it on the skin for a nighttime cool-down.
  • For AC emergencies and power outages, there’s always the old standby of placing ice cubes on critical pulse points—wrists, neck, and the tops of the feet.

Beat the Heat for Better Sleep

Plenty of scientific studies have linked heat with sleep problems, and it goes a lot deeper than comfort. Researchers have found that an ambient temperature that’s too high or too low can adversely affect your sleep, which in turn could decrease your quality of life and increase your risk for serious health problems.

Sleeping better in the summer is about more than restful nights. It’s also about waking up refreshed each day of the season, ready to do the important stuff—even if the biggest item on your calendar is a date with a pool and a pair of floaties.