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Why Do I Get So Hot When I Sleep? The Cool Sleep Guide (2024)

David Little

Updated: June 22, 2024

I can’t sleep, it’s so hot!

There are few things more frustrating than crawling into bed, only to soon feel your temperature rise, sweat forming on your brow, and the bed sheets sticking to your skin.

Phew. Even if you’re exhausted from a busy day – good luck falling asleep now.

Overall, the reasons why you get hot at night are:

  • The sleep-wake cycle
  • Food, drinks, and other health factors
  • Your sleep environment, including mattress and bedding

Let’s explore these factors, and then we’ll show you the best ways to stay cool in bed for better sleep.

The Sleep-Wake Cycle: How It Affects Body Temperature

There’s a good chance that you’ve heard of circadian rhythm: the natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

Essentially, circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock that controls when you feel sleepy and awake. It repeats about every 24 hours.

In addition to sleep, circadian rhythm also regulates important body functions like digestion, hormone release, cognitive function, AND body temperature. Due to circadian rhythm, your body temperature is typically highest in the late afternoon/evening and lowest in the early morning hours. (Source)

If you tend to get hot when you’re trying to sleep at night, it may be due to your body cooling itself by releasing heat through the surface of your skin.

Does this sound like you? We’ll cover how to help manage these swings in body temperature later in this article.

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Personal Health: More Reasons You Get Hot

There are many other reasons why you get hot at night. Some of these health factors are ones that you can control, while others you may have to manage with the help of a medical professional.

NOTE: The information in this article is for general advice only. Please consult with a physician before making any changes to your lifestyle.

Food and Drinks

Certain foods and drinks may raise a person’s body temperature, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Spicy food
  • Carbohydrate or protein-rich meals

Furthermore, eating and drinking before bed can make it harder to fall asleep in general. This may be because your body needs to ramp up the metabolism (which radiates extra body heat) to digest all that food. (Source)

Nerve Damage

In some people, nerve damage can cause problems like feeling too hot, sweating a lot, and burning sensations in the arms and legs, especially at night. Many conditions can cause nerve damage, like:

  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Kidney disease
  • Heavy alcohol use over a long time
  • Lack of certain vitamins
  • Infections like hepatitis C, shingles, and HIV/AIDS
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Additionally, some physical trauma can also damage nerves, including nerve injuries, exposure to extreme cold, or wearing casts or braces that are too tight. (Source)

Hot Flashes

Hormone changes during pregnancy, after childbirth, and during menopause can cause hot flashes. Hot flashes are sudden feelings of heat that start in the chest and face and then spread to the rest of the body. They usually only last a few minutes but can be uncomfortable and make you sweat.

When hot flashes happen at night, they can interrupt your sleep. If these nighttime hot flashes cause heavy sweating, they’re called night sweats. (Source)

Other Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions and their treatments can cause you to feel hot at night. These include:

  • Fevers: Fevers can make people feel hot because the body’s temperature rises to fight infection. When the fever goes away, the body cools down by sweating.
  • Hyperthyroidism: An overactive thyroid gland can lead to excessive sweating, higher body temperature, heat intolerance, and sleep problems.
  • Cancer Treatments: Treatments for some cancers, like breast and prostate cancer, can cause hot flashes and night sweats due to hormone disruptions. (Source)

Medications

Certain medications can cause excessive sweating, including:

  • Antidepressants: The most common type of medication leading to excessive sweating.
  • ADHD Medications: These can cause sweating due to increased metabolism.
  • Hypothyroidism Medications: Can also increase metabolism and lead to sweating.
  • Hormone-Related Medications: Medications affecting estrogen and androgen may cause sweating or hot flashes. (Source)

Body Composition

Your body’s makeup can affect how you feel temperature. Here are a few factors:

  • Lean Muscle Mass: People with more lean muscle mass may feel hotter because their higher metabolism produces more heat.
  • Body Weight: Research suggests that people who weigh more may be more sensitive to heat and prefer cooler temperatures. (Source)

Climate Control: 15 Easy Ways to Sleep Cooler Tonight

Woman lying on her back on an Octave Horizon cooling mattress

Let’s summarize. 1) Your body’s sleep-wake cycle can make you feel hot at bedtime. 2) Other health factors can also increase your body temperature, making it hard to fall asleep.

Thankfully, there are many things you can do to manage the heat and make your bedroom cool and comfortable.

1. Cool the Room to Between 16 and 19 Degrees

Keeping your bedroom cool is key to a good night’s sleep. Aim for a temperature between 16 and 19 degrees Celsius. This might mean adjusting your thermostat or opening windows to let in cool night air.

2. Use a Fan or Create a DIY AC

A series of fans can help circulate fresh air through your house, making it feel cooler. If you only have windows on one side of your home, use one fan to blow the hot air out of the bedroom window, with another fan to blow fresh air on you.

You can also try making a DIY air conditioner by placing ice packs inside a styrofoam cooler, cutting two holes in the cooler, and taping a small fan to one hole. The fan will blow the cold air from the ice, giving you a constant cool breeze.

3. Use Blackout Curtains

Blackout curtains are great for keeping your room cool during the day. They block out the strong sunlight, which can significantly reduce the temperature in your bedroom, making it easier to cool down at night.

4. Sleep Downstairs If You Can

Heat rises, so if you live in a multi-story home, consider sleeping downstairs where it’s naturally cooler. This simple change can make a big difference in how comfortable you feel.

5. Try Sleeping Alone

If you often feel too hot when sharing a bed with a partner, children, or pets, consider sleeping in a separate bed. This can help reduce the amount of extra body heat that you’re exposed to.

6. Avoid Exercising or Eating Big Meals Before Bed

Try not to exercise or eat a large meal close to bedtime. Both activities can raise your body temperature and make it harder to fall asleep. Aim to finish exercising or eating at least a few hours before you go to bed.

7. Stay Hydrated and Eat Light

Drink plenty of water throughout the day and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Staying hydrated helps regulate your body temperature, and a diet rich in fruits and veggies can help keep you cool.

8. Take a Lukewarm Bath or Shower

A lukewarm bath or shower before bed can help cool you down. You can also cool your feet in a foot bath. These simple routines can help cleanse and cool your body, preparing you for sleep.

9. Try a Sleep Cool App

Some sleep apps offer guided meditations and breathing exercises designed to help you relax and cool down before bed. These can be particularly helpful if you find that stress or anxiety is contributing to your overheating.

10. Chill Your Pillowcase and Towel

For an extra cool touch, put your pillowcase and a towel in the freezer for a few hours before bed. The chilled fabric will feel refreshing and help you cool down faster.

11. Wear Loose Bed Clothes

Choose loose-fitting bed clothes made of breathable materials. Tight clothing can trap heat, so go for something comfortable and airy.

12. Use Breathable Bedding

Opt for bedding made from cooling materials like Linen sheets or Bamboo sheets. Also, bedding with a thread count in the range of 300-400 will be more breathable and help keep you cooler at night.

13. Adjust Your Sleep Position

Sleeping spread-eagle with your arms and legs stretched out can help reduce body heat by increasing airflow around your body. Avoid sleeping curled up, as this can trap more heat.

14. Consider a Larger Bed

If you sleep with a partner, kids, or pets, think about getting a larger bed, like a king, California king, or split king. More space means less body heat buildup, which can help both of you sleep better.

15. Invest in a Cooling Mattress

Look for a mattress with cooling features, like Octave – named Canada’s Best Cooling Mattress.

Octave mattresses are designed to regulate temperature and keep you comfortable all night using these high-tech features:

  • CryoFusion™ Cooling Nanofibres – feels remarkably cool to the touch
  • CopperGel™ Memory Foam + ecoLuxe® Cooling Gel Foam – dissipates excess body heat
  • PolarMAX® – helps balance the sleep surface temperature
  • Aerated Latex Foam + Support Foam with Air Channels – provides continuous airflow, keeping the mattress cool and moisture free

By following these tips, you can create a cooler, more comfortable sleep environment and enjoy a better night’s rest.

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