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You toss. You turn.
You wake up soaked in sweat, and you know you’re in for another fun night of hot sleep.
In other words, science hasn’t quite figured out how common it is be a hot sleeper.
Want to know all the reasons you seem to be overheating when you sleep?
Longing for some tried and tested remedies to keep yourself cool and sweat-free?
Read on for all the answers to your burning questions.
In the evening, when your eyes see that it’s dark, a hormone called melatonin is released, according to a small 2001 study.
As well as triggering feelings of tiredness, this causes your body temperature to begin dropping, according to a 2012 research review.
When you finally nod off, your body will continue decreasing its temperature —around 2°F (-1°C) in total —to help promote a good night’s sleep.
And when it’s time to wake, the temperature will begin rising again to its usual level, according to Sleep.org.
Sweating happens to cool your body’s core temperature when it rises above a certain point.
So, what makes your internal temperature rise at night?
Well, there are some obvious causes and some not so obvious ones.
The simplest cause is that the temp is hot in your bedroom or you’re using thick bedding or mattresses that are known to retain heat. (Think memory foam designs.)
Of course, having another person or pets in the bed can increase the heat in the room, too.
But night sweats can also have nothing to do with external temperatures and more to do with internal processes.
Metabolism can also play a role.
According to the National Health Service, overheating at night can even be caused by certain medications, like some pain relievers and antidepressants.
Again, this can happen as a result of disturbances to your body’s temperature regulation system.
As you can see, there are many, many potential causes of night sweats.
In some cases, sweating may be a symptom of a more serious condition.
Sleep apnea is one of them —in fact, one 2013 study found that people with sleep apnea were three times more likely to report night sweats than the general adult population. A 2020 research review showed that excessive sweating when sleeping is linked to:
However, you’re likely to have other symptoms as well.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to help keep yourself cool at night. Most involve attempting to prevent the problem in the first place.
Firstly, take a look at your bedroom. Do you usually keep the curtains wide open, letting the sun stream in?
While letting sunlight in is a normal way to start your day, keeping the curtains shut or blinds down can help keep the room cool, according to the Sleep Foundation. Blackout curtains are particularly great for lowering indoor temperatures.
Next up: your bed. Everything from your mattress to your pillows can have an effect on your body temperature. When it comes to sheets and pillowcases, opt for breathable fabrics like:
(You can even freeze your pillowcases during the day for an extra dose of cold.)
For mattresses, latex is a good option for air circulation. Memory foam, on the other hand, tends to retain heat. If you have a memory foam mattress, don’t despair — you can easily buy cooling pads or sheets to go on top.
AC is another obvious way to keep your bedroom on the cool side. Setting your thermostat 60 to 67°F (16 to 19°C) is thought to be best for most people, with 65°F (18°C) being the ideal temperature.
Finally, there’s the almighty fan. Although some people find it impossible to sleep with a fan blasting in their ears, others find the noise soothing.
Even if you can’t sleep, you can put it on during the day for improved air circulation.
What you do before you nod off can have an impact on your internal body temperature.
When you get out, that body temperature will begin to dip, giving you a good chance of a restful night.
Ready to jump into bed? Consider what you’re wearing.
Sleeping naked can help your body temperature remain on the low side. If you prefer to be clothed, choose lightweight, breathable fibers like cotton.
Of course, if your night sweats are the result of an underlying health condition, you may need medical help. Your doctor can:
- prescribe medications
- advise you of dietary changes that may help
- alter any existing medication dosages if needed
Plenty of people have tried all kinds of things in a bid to cool down at night.
While some hacks may or may not work for you, there are a few products that seem to be universally liked by hot sleepers.
If you’re looking for new bedding, try these bed sheets —they’re designed to wick moisture away from your skin.
There are even cooling blankets that are designed to absorb body heat and reduce the chance of sweat.
Or experiment with a cooling gel pillow with shredded foam for improved airflow.
Although night sweats are less than ideal, they’re your body’s nifty way of cooling itself down.
While there are endless amounts of cooling products to try, it’s worth considering why you’re feeling overly hot at night. It could be something as simple as your diet or exercise routine, or it could be a symptom of a more complex condition.
If you’re worried, contact your doctor for advice.