How to keep a bed cool in summer – 5 ways to beat the heat in bed

It might not be enough to just cool a bedroom on hot summer nights, here’s how to keep your bed cool too

(Image credit: Sherwin-Williams)

When it comes to sleep, there are few things less comfortable than trying to bed down in summer. Sheets always stick to you, the mattress feels too hot, and your warm pillow is the last thing you want to bury your head into.

While there are several things you can do to cool down a bedroom in summer, from using AC to investing in the right window treatments, these don’t always help that uncomfortable feeling of sleeping in humidity.

So, how do you keep a bed cool in summer? We asked sleep and bedding experts for their tips on how to sleep comfortably in the summer heat.

How to keep a bed cool in summer

Given that the ideal temperature for sleep is somewhere around 50F, trying to cool a bed and your bedroom in summer should be a top priority if you want to protect your rest and maintain good sleep hygiene, experts say.

1. Opt for natural fiber bedding

wooden beamed bedroom with wrap around windows and a large bed

(Image credit: Marie Flanigan / Photography Julie Soefler)

When trying to find the best cooling bed sheets, your best bet is anything made from natural fibers. These bed sheet sets are a lot more breathable than synthetic fibers and are often better at wicking sweat. However, with so many options on the market, it can be hard to know which is best for your summer sleeping habits, says Parima Ijaz, bedding expert, founder, and CEO at Pure Parima. Here, she breaks the best options down:

‘The most breathable fibers are natural. Cotton, linen, hemp, and bamboo all allow air to pass through easily, helping to cool the skin. However, bamboo fabrics use toxic chemicals to process the plant fibers into yarns, so if you are interested in good environmental practices, this might not be the best choice.

Linen and hemp, although quite breathable and temperature regulating, are prone to wrinkling and have a coarse texture that may not be comfortable for some. Linen has been known to tear easily as well.

‘So that leaves cotton. Cotton transmits heat well and is highly absorbent. The cotton fibers are hollow, allowing air and water vapor to easily pass through the fabric. Egyptian Cotton is naturally more breathable because it is more porous than standard cotton. For that reason, the air passes even more easily through the sheets, and water vapor is more substantially absorbed and evaporated, making it a superior material for coolness.’

neutral bedroom with gray walls, and gray bed with white bedding and cat

(Image credit: Hibou Design & Co., Mike Chajekci Photography)

It is not just what your sheets are made out of that can have an impact on how cool you feel in bed, Parima continues. How the sheets are woven can play a big part too:

‘The other factor in creating coolness in sheets is the weave of the fabric. Fabric is woven on looms where the yarns are set along the length of the fabric, and then lifted and dropped to allow other yarns to pass through along the width of the fabric. The pattern of yarns that are lifted and dropped determines the weave.

‘The most breathable type of weave by far is the Percale weave. This one-yarn-over and one-yarn-under construction allows for more air to pass through and produces a lighter weight and crisper feel.’

2. Invest in a cooling mattress topper

Corner of a Nolah Mattress Topper on a bed.

(Image credit: Nolah)

You don’t want to be changing out your whole mattress just because it is summer. Instead, Dr. Chelsea Perry, sleep expert and owner of Sleep Solutions, suggests picking up the best cooling mattress topper instead:

‘Another game-changer can be a cooling mattress topper. They're fantastic! There are some made with gel-infused memory foam or even latex, which are designed to stay cool to the touch. It’s like giving your bed an upgrade without having to buy a whole new mattress.’

You can often also find smaller, pillow-sized gel cooling pads to help keep your head and neck cool when sleeping in summer. Simply line the inside of your pillowcase with one for extra comfort.

3. Chill your sheets before bed

Grey fridge, tile floor

(Image credit: Benchmarx Kitchens)

If a cooling mattress topper is not enough, you can also chill your bedsheets for an initial hit of cool comfort when you first settle down to sleep, adds Molly Freshwater, Co-Founder of Secret Linen Store:

‘For a burst of coolness, try chilling your sheets in the fridge before bedtime. Make sure they're well wrapped to avoid odors and excess moisture – this could be the trick you need to drift off comfortably.'

4. Swap comforters for sheets or lighter-down options

Brooklinen Down Comforter on a bed against a headboard.

(Image credit: Brooklinen)

Hotter countries of the world will usually forego comforters and duvets altogether and use simple sheets to offer a comforting layer at night without the weight of a full blanket. This certainly helps to keep things breathable, but it may not be for everyone – especially those of us who prefer a bit of extra weight to help us settle down for sleep.

‘It might seem counterintuitive, but even in the summer, you want the best cooling comforter,’ suggests Dr. Chelsea Perry, sleep expert. ‘Something filled with lightweight down or a down alternative is great. These materials provide just enough warmth without trapping heat. It's all about finding that balance so you stay comfortable throughout the night.'

5. Try a ‘bed climate’ system

white bedroom with panelled walls and striped headboard

(Image credit: Knight Varga Interiors, photography Janis Nicolay)

If improving sleep is a priority for you in summer, then it might be worth considering investing in a bed climate system, suggests Dr. Chelsea Perry, sleep expert. This is not the cheapest option, by any means, but it is one of the only guaranteed options to keeping a bed cool throughout the whole night in summer – and keeping a bed warm in winter, too.

Bed climate systems are akin to small, undisruptive AC units for your bed, allowing you to control the temperature of your mattress and sheets instantly, no matter the time of year. As the weather continues to grow more unpredictable, it is certainly an investment worth considering.

FAQs

Why is my bed making me so hot?

If your bed makes you a hot sleeper no matter the time of year, it could be that you have a warm mattress, or have picked very warm bedding that is not suited to your sleep style. Mattresses with lots of foam layers, for instance, will usually feel a lot warmer as they trap heat than a thinner mattress or one with a gel topper. Synthetic fiber bedding and thick comforters then exacerbate the situation, raising your temperature and further trapping the heat against you and in your mattress. A few simple bedding swaps should fix this issue right away.

How do I cool down my bed fast?

If you are looking for a quick injection of coolness for your bed, using an ice pack as a ‘cool water bottle’ can help to quickly lower the temperature below the sheets. This is not a night-long solution, however, as it will eventually melt and warm up, so be sure to use it in conjunction with other bed cooling methods (such as investing in the right sheets and mattress toppers) for a lasting effect.


Before looking to change your bed, remember to avoid several heatwave sleeping mistakes, such as exercising or eating before bed, that can raise your body temperature and make even the most cooling of bed feel oppressive.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.