Cooling Tricks to Help With Night Sweats and Hot Flashes

No one wants to wake up drenched in sweat. Read on for tips and products to help you become a cool sleeper.

Woman in bed with a white dog

Becoming overheated and sweaty during sleep happens to many of us. If night sweats or hot flashes are disrupting your sleep, they may be caused by a variety of factors, including hot weather, certain medications, menstruation, menopause, or a health issue.

Whether you’re a naturally hot sleeper or you find yourself struggling to sleep through the night in hot, humid weather, there are tips and tricks that can help you get relief.

Read on for expert advice and hot sleeper solutions.

What Causes Overheating at Night?

There are many reasons you might be sleeping hot or suffering hot flashes. Here are a few common causes:

1. Hormones: Shifting estrogen levels alter the part of your brain that regulates body temperature. As a result, women’s temperature regulation can fluctuate with their menstrual cycle and during perimenopause and menopause. In fact, 61% of menopausal women struggle with sleep issues, according to the National Sleep Foundation.   

2. Exercise: Rigorous, high-intensity exercise causes your thyroid gland to release extra hormones to support the heightened activity. This shift can disrupt your body’s temperature regulation and trigger night sweats. If you must exercise close to bedtime, stick to gentle exercise, such as walking, yoga, or stretching.  

3. Health Problems: Health issues that can trigger night sweats include low blood sugar, thyroid imbalance, and anxiety. And according to the Mayo Clinic, night sweats are a common side effect of medications prescribed to treat depression, diabetes, and cancer. If night sweats wake you up frequently, talk to your physician. 

What’s the Optimal Temperature for Sleep?

A 2012 study found that the temperature in your bedroom is one of the most important factors in whether or not you can attain quality sleep.

Your brain and your body need to drop their core temperature by about two to three degrees Fahrenheit in order to initiate sleep and then to stay asleep,” Matt Walker, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, says in his Six Tips for Better Sleep Ted Talk. "And this is the reason that you will always find it easier to fall asleep in a room that's too cold than too hot.”

So, what’s the perfect temperature for great rest?

“Most of us sleep best when ambient temps are around 65 -70 degrees,” says neurologist and sleep specialist Dr. W. Chris Winter, creator of Sleep.com’s 8 Days to 8 Hours sleep program and the author of “The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It.” “Cooler temperatures are generally better, but you shouldn't be shivering.”

To keep your sleep space cool, Dr. Winter recommends sleeping on a mattress with cooling technology, wearing moisture-wicking sleepwear, and choosing bedding made from natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or bamboo.

“Using multiple blankets is one good way to have temperature control,” Dr. Winter explains. “It’s easier to kick off a blanket then take off heavy pajamas or get up and turn down the temperature.”

How Can I Stop Myself from Overheating at Night?

There are simple hot sleeper fixes to minimize night sweats, hot flashes, and overheating at night.

  • Invest in a mattress with cooling technology as well as temperature-control bedding and sleepwear. (See our specific recommendations below).  If you don’t have a cooling pillow, Dr. Winter recommends throwing your pillowcase in the freezer for a few minutes before bed.  
  • Skip the nightcap. A University of Massachusetts at Amherst study that interviewed women about hot flashes and night sweats concluded that alcohol consumption was a significant predictor of both. 
  • Exercise earlier in the day to avoid getting “revved up” before bed.   
  • Keep hot electronics, such as your laptop and mobile phone, out of the bed. (Think about how hot your laptop gets!)  
  • Bring an ice pack or cold water bottle to bed with you. 
  • Open your windows and keep the thermostat set on the lower side. In summer, run the air conditioning or fans.  
  • Invest in a dog bed for Fido to get him out of yours. (More warm bodies in bed=more heat.)  
woman sleeping wearing a cooling headband
The Ebb CoolDrift Versa can apply cooling temperatures to your forehead overnight.

What Should Hot Sleepers Wear to Bed?

Pajamas have come a long way from an oversized t-shirt and boxer shorts.

Plenty of companies now create attractive pajamas in moisture-wicking and/or cool fabrics. Textiles touted for temperature control include quick-drying eucalyptus fibers, transdry cotton, bamboo blends and, surprisingly, merino wool.

“Wool is one of the best fabrics if you sweat at night or anytime because it pulls the moisture away from the body,” says Dr. Winter. “Wool is actually quite good at regulating temperature.”

If cooling pajamas aren’t helping, you could try a different sort of wearable.

The Ebb CoolDrift Versa is a headband that cools your forehead. Designed to be worn before bed or all night long, the wraparound band has five temperature settings and three cooling pads distributed across the forehead.

With the press of a button, the Embr Wave Bracelet can lower the temperature of the inside of your wrist, which then encourages the rest of your body to cool down as well. Think of it as a more modern (and less messy!) alternative to holding an ice cube on the same spot.

What are the Best Sheets for Hot Sleepers?

The National Sleep Foundation says bedding made with natural materials like cotton, bamboo, or linen is best. Other sleep product reviews also recommend microfiber and silk.

Your personal preference for the feel of certain fabrics will influence your choice.

Linen tends to trap less heat than cotton because of its looser weave, while percale feels cool and crisp to the touch.

What About Pillows for Hot Sleepers?

Keeping a cool head is another way to help prevent your body from overheating. Similar to bedding, a variety of cooling pillows have hit the market to help with this. Here are a few of the best cooling pillows for hot sleepers:

The 5 Best Mattresses for Hot Sleepers

Whether you prefer memory foam, gel, or a hybrid construction, there’s a mattress that can help keep you cool.

Here are a few we recommend:

What if I Can’t Replace My Mattress Right Now?

Consider a cooling mattress topper to reduce the temperature of the surface of your bed. Cooling mattress toppers — which are made of a variety of materials including latex, wool, and gel memory foam — draw heat away from the sleeper, providing comfort for better rest.

That said, if your mattress is an older model without proper ventilation, you’ll ultimately want to replace it.

Hopefully, between these simple fixes and cooling sleep products, you’ll soon experience the true bliss of chilling out in bed.

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