How to keep cool at night during a heatwave 

Heat can disrupt your sleep. Follow our advice to make sure you are able to stay cool at night. 

It can be difficult to sleep in a heatwave. 

If it's too hot or too cold, your internal body temperature may be affected, disrupting your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Quality sleep is essential in a heatwave to help your body recover, regulate temperature and maintain physical and mental health.

Adequate rest is especially important for those in vulnerable groups as it supports immune function, energy levels, and cardiovascular health all of which are crucial for coping with the added stress of extreme heat.

Man lies on his back in bed with his eyes closed

How to sleep during a heatwave and high temperatures


Sleep on the lowest level of your home

Heat rises, so you might want to consider sleeping on a lower level of your home. If your home is only on one level, move to the coolest area of it.

Make sure all electrical items are turned off

Even when in standby mode, electrical items can generate heat. Make sure any in the bedroom are turned off and unplugged.

Have a lukewarm or cool shower before bed

Don't get into bed feeling hot. If your core body temperature is too high, you're at risk of overheating. Take a lukewarm shower before going to sleep to bring your body temperature down slowly.

Wear cold socks 

Cooling your feet helps to bring down your overall body temperature. Put a pair of socks in the fridge during the day and slip them on your feet before getting into bed.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening

 Alcohol often goes hand in hand with sunny weather but, it is advised to limit consumption especially in the evening but causes poorer quality of sleep. Caffeinated drinks are diuretics and may encourage your body to lose fluids, risking dehydration as well as increase your body temperatures.

Try to opt for lighter, fresher foods like fruits and vegetables.

Stay hydrated

Dehydration can affect your body temperature at night, causing you to feel too hot or too cold. Drink a glass of cold water before bed and keep one close during the night

Change your bedding

Sleep with a thin, cotton sheet, which will absorb sweat.  Body temperature drops overnight, so even if you go to bed hot you will still need a cover so you don't wake up from feeling cold. 

Choose loose-fitting clothing

Tight clothes or pyjamas will trap warm air next to your body, go for a loose t-shirt and shorts. 

Keep to your routine

Hot weather can often mean your everyday routine goes out the window but, eating and going to bed later may affect the quality of sleep. Try to stick to your usual eating and bed times and keep the same night-time routine.

The heat can also mean you feel more tired during the day because your body is using more energy to regulate internal temperature. Try not to give in to having a day time nap, as this disrupts your sleep pattern and can make it harder to fall asleep in the evening.

Why is lack of sleep a problem?

According to the NHS an adult usually needs between 7 to 9 hours sleep a night however, this will change depending on age, health and personal circumstances. Teenagers, children and babies need more sleep than others.

Lack of sleep, even for one night, can impact your health and may negatively affect your:

  • immune system 
  • alertness and reaction times
  • attention
  • cognitive ability
  • mood changes and irritability
  • anxiety and depression
  • quality of life and social activity


Help to stay cool and safe

It's important to manage your health during a heatwave when dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke are more likely to occur. Follow our advice for staying cool and safe: 


Vulnerable groups

Certain groups are more vulnerable to the impacts of heat and lack of sleep than others. 

Learn more about which groups of people are most vulnerable in a heatwave and find advice for how to help. 

Volunteer supports woman going home from hospital.

Help and support during a heatwave

If you need help to prepare for a heatwave our support line volunteers can provide (where possible) free and confidential support and signposting to local services. 

Call 0808 196 3651 between 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 8pm on Wednesdays.

British Red Cross volunteer taking a call on the support line