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Do Cooling Sheets Really Work?

August 17, 2023

We’ve all been there: trying to get some sleep in the summer heat and humidity. It can be hot, sticky and downright uncomfortable. And when the air conditioner just doesn’t cut it, you might be wondering what else you can do to get some restful Z’s.

But could the answer lie in your bedding?

We asked an expert about body temperature and sleep, and whether cooling sheets offer a solution for hot or sweaty sleepers.

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If you’re comfortable, you’re more likely to get a good night’s sleep.

Your body temperature could mean the difference between a good and a bad night’s sleep, explains Maryam Syed, DO, who practices family medicine at Hartford HealthCare Medical Group in Westport. For most people, that requires a room temperature somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

“If it is too hot or too cold then you are more likely to wake up resulting in bad quality sleep throughout the night,” says Dr. Syed.

If your sleeping environment is too hot, it can also reduce the release of melatonin, which affect your body’s REM sleep.

> Related: Are You a Night Owl? How to Get Better Sleep in an Early-Bird World

And sleep has a big impact on your health.

One or two nights of bad sleep might make you tired or irritable, but the long-term impact of sleep is much bigger.

“Good sleep has been shown in research to improve overall health as well as brain performance and mood,” says Dr. Syed. “Not getting good quality sleep increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, obesity as well as dementia.”

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Why cooling sheets could make a difference.

Cooling sheets help to regulate body temperature in a number of different ways. The materials tend to be more breathable, and less likely to trap heat, and some even stay dry from sweat.

When shopping for cooling sheets, look for:

  • Lightweight fabrics such as bamboo and cotton that are breathable
  • Lower thread counts, in the 200 to 400 range, to allow for more ventilation
  • Moisture-wicking materials

“Cooling sheets can help those struggling with temperature regulation, especially in menopause or from other hormonal issues,” says Dr. Syed. “In certain scenarios, they can also help to prevent the need for insomnia medications because the solution may just be optimal temperature during sleep.”

But temperature regulation issues when you sleep could be a sign of a bigger issue.

If you’ve changed up your bedding and you’re still too hot at night, it might be indicative of a larger problem.

“Some people may have a hard time with temperature regulation due to a variety of issues such as thyroid problems, menopause, other hormone imbalances or medication side effects,” says Dr. Syed.

In some instances, night sweats can be a symptom of an infection or a more serious problem. If you have a sudden onset of night sweats, you should check in with your primary care provider.

Ayer Neuroscience Institute Sleep Care Center