Best Ways to Sleep Cooler at Night Without Using Air Conditioning

Overheating while sleeping is common, but running an air conditioner all night can be expensive. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a temperature between 60°F and 67°F for optimal sleep. To maintain this temperature without increasing energy costs, it's suggested to use a mattress with good airflow and cooling technology. Breathable bed sheets made of cotton, linen, or bamboo can also help. Other strategies include upgrading pillows and pillowcases, sleeping naked, using a ceiling fan, improving the sleep environment, taking a warm shower before bed, and using an ice pack or frozen washcloth.

Overheating while you sleep is incredibly common, especially on hot summer nights. If you’re like most people, though, it’s just too expensive to run your air conditioner 24/7.

The thing is, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) says the optimal temperature for sleep is between 60°F and 67°F. Keeping your bedroom in this range allows your body to more easily reach its ideal sleepy-time temperature.

So, how can you maintain this temperature overnight without running up your energy bill? We’ve rounded up the best strategies to do just that.

Keeping cool at night starts with your mattress

The number one way to sleep cool at night is to get a mattress that promotes good airflow and has built-in cooling technology. There’s a variety of temperature-regulating mattresses made of soft, breathable materials.

Some of the mattresses with the best cooling technology include:

  • Innerspring mattresses: These beds have a coil system on the inside and are free of temperature trapping materials like memory foam.
  • Hybrid mattresses: Hybrids also have a coil system on the inside, which helps regulate airflow and reduce night sweats.
  • Latex mattresses: The open-cell construction of latex foam mattresses allows for better temperature regulation and offers a cooling effect throughout the night.
  • Gel memory foam mattresses: These mattresses are similar to traditional memory foam but are infused with a cooling gel to help regulate body temperature. They’re a great memory foam alternative if you’re looking for a cooler night’s sleep.

Your type of mattress can play a role in regulating your core body temperature during the night. But choosing the right mattress type isn’t the only thing that can help you get cooler sleep.

Keeping cool at night: bed sheets

When you store away the heavy duvet cover for the summer, switch your sheets too. There are a few incredibly breathable bed sheet materials that can help hot sleepers stay cool throughout the night.

These include:

  • Cotton sheets: Breathable cotton sheets are a great pick for the warmer months, as they naturally help you sleep cooler. The NSF recommends a thread count of 400 or less for sheets, particularly when it’s hot outside. That’s because a higher thread count traps body heat.
  • Linen sheets: Linen sheets offers the same high-quality breathability as cotton sheets. They tend to be soft, cooling, and ultra-durable.
  • Bamboo sheets: These are made from a natural fabric that comes from the pulp of bamboo grass. Bamboo sheets are soft, breathable, and do a great job of wicking away moisture.

After you select a cooling set of sheets and a breathable mattress, there are still a few more things you can do to stay cool while you snooze.

Other methods for sleeping cool

If you’re still struggling with overheating and high body temperatures at night, it may be time to explore some options outside of your mattress type and bed sheet materials.

Our top ways to stay cool throughout the night include:

  • Upgrading your pillow (and pillowcase)
  • Sleeping nude
  • Installing a ceiling fan
  • Improving your sleep environment
  • Taking a warm shower
  • Bringing an ice pack to bed

Watch this video for more tips on staying cool while you sleep:

1. Upgrade your pillow—and pillowcase

Use the summer heat as an impetus to swap out that pillow you’ve held onto for way too long. Look for a cooling pillow and pillowcase to avoid waking up soaked in sweat.

Just try to avoid memory foam pillows, which can trap heat, and stick with pillowcases made from linen, cotton, or bamboo.

2. Get naked

Hot sleepwear can cause your body temperature to rise in the bedroom. One of the easiest ways to chill out at bedtime? Slip out of your PJs and try sleeping in the buff.

In addition to making it easier for you to stay cooler, sleeping naked is good for your sex life, skin, and mood. Don’t believe us? Here are seven proven benefits of sleeping naked, backed by science.

3. Install a ceiling fan

Turning on a ceiling fan instead of your air conditioner is an easy way to cool down a room while saving you a whole lot of money. Electric fans cost one-tenth the amount to run as AC units. If you must use your air conditioner, do it in tandem with a ceiling fan.

The U.S. Department of Energy states that when you use a ceiling fan, you can raise your thermostat by 4° and still feel comfortable. (Learn about the pros and cons of sleeping with a fan on.)

4. Improve your sleep environment

The best sleep environment is one that’s cool and dark—in other words, cave-like. We’ve already covered how feeling cool allows you to drift off more easily. Darkness tells your body it’s time to power down.

Accessories like blackout curtains can help improve your sleep environment and keep your room temperature low by preventing unwanted light and heat from getting into your bedroom.

5. Take a warm shower

You may think showering in cold water is the best way to cool down your body temperature before bed, but that’s not correct. Cold showers are very stimulating for your body and can actually keep you up longer.

Showering in warm water, on the other hand, can help you relax before bed. Your body temperature may rise at first, but it’ll eventually cool down once you get out of the shower.

6. Take an ice pack to bed

To help ensure you stay cool during the night, keep an ice pack by your bed. Alternatively, you can also use a frozen washcloth for the same effect.

You’ll want to focus the ice pack or frozen washcloth on the pulse points of your body, like the back of your neck and your wrists. This can help quickly lower your body temperature and make it easier to fall asleep at night.

When should I use the air conditioning?

If you just can’t seem to fall asleep, you might end up sleeping with your AC on anyway—and that’s OK. Sometimes, turning on the air conditioner is even good for your health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, staying indoors in air conditioning is one of the best ways to prevent heatstroke. Your best bet is to use energy-efficient appliances and turn off your air conditioner when you’re not home. That way you won’t waste any energy and up your bill unnecessarily.

Experience cooler sleep with these Saatva mattresses

Saatva Classic Innerspring Mattress

Our flagship luxury mattress is expertly engineered with coil-on-coil construction for durability, a layer of memory foam for enhanced back support, and a cushiony Euro pillow top for extra comfort.

Latex Hybrid Mattress

This hybrid mattress combines the pressure-free support of natural latex with the classic innerspring feel. Handcrafted with pure materials for the ultimate in cool and healthy sleep.

Zenhaven Latex Mattress

Natural latex responds to every curve for pressure-free support and responsive comfort. Natural latex is supple, resilient, and durable, for the ultimate in elevated sleep. (It's naturally hypoallergenic too.)

Frequently asked questions

Why do I get hot at night?

Your body temperature naturally decreases as you get ready for bed, but it can quickly rise if you sleep on mattresses and sheets that trap heat.

Will sleeping cooler help me get better sleep?

If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, it might be due to your rising body temperature. Sleeping with bed accessories that help you stay cool can reduce the number of times you wake up during the night.

How can I make my bed cooler?

The first thing you should do is make sure you have the right mattress, pillows, and bed sheets to promote proper air circulation. You should also look for cooling bed accessories to help with improving airflow.

Check out Saatva’s cooling bed accessories for hot nights

Feeling too hot to sleep is frustrating—and your bed could be making the situation worse. Luckily, there are plenty of cooling mattresses and bed accessories on the market that can help keep you from overheating.

If you’ve decided it’s time to buy a new mattress for cooler sleep, we’ve got you covered. Saatva offers a variety of mattresses made with cooling materials, including cotton, gel-infused memory foam, and natural latex. Take our online mattress quiz to see which of our high-quality products will work best for your sleeping style and keep you cool all night long.

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